)HN §r. lOHN
■[j'rignd^m Young Univers-ltLj
Call 1(^^.3 Ace. 130240
N° .fV\%^^ No
"Our history, as a Church, has been like
a drama. No scenes acted upon the theat-
rical stage ever possessed more engrossing
interest than have the scenes of our lives as
— George Q. Cannon.
JOHN ST. JOHN
A Story of Missouri and Illinois.
Author of "Added Upon," "The Castle Builder," "Piney Ridge
Cottage," "Story of Chester Lawrence," "A Daughter
of the North," "A Young Folks History
of the Church," etc.
By Nephi Anderson.
All Rights Reserved.
JOHN ST. JOHN.
"John,— Mr. John St. John!"
A little girl looked timidly into the room as she
pushed the door half open. A stream of sunlight
entered with her and lay as a patch of yellow on the
rich brown carpet, burnishing, as it swept by, the
golden tresses of the child.
The young man sitting by the open window on
the other side of the foom did not heed the call, so
absorbed was he in his book.
The little girl stood still, hesitating whether or
not to disturb him. It was only for a moment, but the
silence seemed a long time. Then she called again:
"John,— Mr. John St. John!"
The young man looked up. "Is that you, Jane?
Come in," he said.
"That's an awfully interesting book, isn't it?" she
asked, as she slipped in and closed the door.
"Why, yes — but I didn't see you; truly, I didn't."
"You didn't hear me either."
"I'm ashamed of my stupidity. Come here, Jane,
and tell me I am forgiven."
He drew her close to his chair. He stroked her
hair and looked into her big blue eyes. She laughed
merrily and shook her curls.
6 JOHN ST. JOHN
"How old are you, Jane?" he asked.
"Half as old as I."
"But Fm more than half as big. Stand up and
John arose, and he and the girl measured side by-
side. She reached nearly to his shoulder.
"See!" she cried, "and Fm ten years old to-
'Well, I can beat you twice, and then some."
'I'm to have a party, and I came to invite you
"Thank you; Fll come. What shall I bring?"
"Yourself, of course."
"Why, Dora will be there already, and — oh, yes,
bring your mother. I just love her."
"To take care of her big boy — that's a good idea.
All right, won't you sit down now."
"I think Fd better go. Fm so busy getting things
ready; and Dora won't help me today; she's interested
in a book, too."
Jane peeped into the pages of the volume which
John had been reading, but which now lay open on the
"I think it isn't interesting," she remarked.
"What makes you think so?"
"There isn't any talk in it. I like the thin places
in a book."
John smiled. "You like a story, don't you?"
"Yes, with a lot of fighting in it."
"Jane, Jane, I am surprised!"
JOHN ST. JOHN 7
"You needn't be. Is there fighting in this book?"
"Yes, a lot of it. It's about the Indians. It tells
how the Indians came to be Indians."
At this interesting disclosure, Jane looked more
closely at the pages. "Book of Mormon/* she read.
"I never heard of this book before."
"It's a new one. A preacher left it here last week."
John closed the book with a mark between the leaves,
then he arose. "Jane, Vm going home with you, to
help you get ready for the party."
"Oh, will you? but Dora won't look at you," she
warned. "Her nose is in a new book also."
The young man laughed softly at this as he slipped
on his coat and put on his hat. He took Jane by the
hand, and they went out. They paused on the porch,
impressed with the bright June day and the beauty
of the scene.
Back of them, a mile or so, lay the city. At the
left and in front were the distant hills, then the nearer
forest and the broad stretch of fields and meadow
through which flowed a small creek. These were all
bathed in a soft, pearly haze, through which the sun's
rays filtered to a pleasant warmth. At the right, less
than a quarter of a mile away, the Fenton house could
be seen among the trees. A private path led down to
the orchard, through the field, and across a rustic
bridge which spanned the creek, then up to Jane's
home. Along this path, John and his little friend
walked leisurely this afternoon. The wheat fields
were waving, the meadows shone in growing green.
Crickets chirped their welcome, and a catbird called
from a nearby tree.
8 JOHN ST. JOHN
"There's Dora on the porch reading," announced
Jane, as they neared the house. "She doesn't see us.
Let's scare her."
The two stepped softly on the grass. When within
a few feet of the porch, Jane gave a lusty shout, at
which the reader raised her head.
"We're Indians," cried the little girl in glee,
"and we've come to take you."
Yes, she was worth the taking, thought John St.
John as Dora Fenton arose to welcome him. Nearly
twice the age of her sister Jane, she was tall with big
blue eyes and light wavy hair. The two sisters were
very much alike. Jane was a bud, Dora, the full-
blown flower. John seated himself near Dora, while
Jane perched herself on the porch railing.
"Jane tells me you have a very interesting book,"
Dora handed the volume to him.
*' Pride and Prejudice," he read. "A new book
by a new author. Is it interesting?"
"It's rather unnatural. It seems strange to us
that there are people in England who do nothing all
day but dine, call on each other, play cards, and gossip,
as this book describes."
"But John has a much more interesting book,"
interrupted Jane. "It's about Indians."
"I fear, Jane, that you have a wrong conception
of my book," replied John.
"What is it?" inquired Dora. "Some deeply
philosophic volume, I suppose."
"It's a very strange book," explained John.
"It claims to be a record of an ancient people who
JOHN ST. JOHN 9
lived in this land long before Columbus discovered it.
The Indians are a remnant of this people. It's a sort of
"A Bible — how can there be more than one Bible?"
"Well, of course, it's a rather strange idea to us
that there should be more than one Bible; but, really,
when one thinks about it, if a civilized people once
lived on this continent, and they were a branch of the
Hebrew race, why shouldn't their records and history
The older girl looked at the speaker for a moment,
then her gaze went out past him to the distant hills.
John did not continue the theme. He did not wish to
discuss religion with Miss Fenton, as his past exper-
iences in that line had taught him that it might end
unpleasantly; and John did not like unpleasant things.
Jane soon left to be about her important preparations.
"It's a most beautiful day," said John; "let's take
They strolled down the path leading to the brook
and the bridge. The young lady's curiosity regarding
the new book was not quite satisfied.
"Where did you get this book about the Indians?"
"A young traveling preacher left it at the house
last week. He explained that the book had been trans-
lated from some golden plates by a young man, Joseph
Smith by name, whom he called a prophet."
"Yes; this prophet had received visitations of
angels and many wonderful manifestations, he claimed."
"Angels — a modern prophet?"
10 JOHN ST. JOHN
"Fll lend you the book."
"Thank you; but I think I shall not care to read
They stopped on the bridge as they always had
done for many years. As boy and as girl these two had
waded in the stream and had fished for minnows in its
pools. The bridge had been their place of meeting, for
small boys and girls are equals, and meet each other
half-way. The weather-beaten hand rail over which
they now leaned, as they looked down into the water,
was decorated with jack-knife carvings. In the center
of an elaborate, if not artistic, design were the letters
J S J - D F, carved by John St. John in his younger
days. Frequently, as they had lingered on the bridge,
he had cut the letters deeper in the wood. Even that
afternoon, he mechanically took his knife from his
pocket and began to carve.
Dora looked at him. "Don't you think these
letters are deep enough?" she asked, with a smile.
"Perhaps; but somehow, I want to be sure — want
to be certain that these two names will remain side by
side always, in spite of wind or weather."
Dora again dropped her eyes to the pool, and a soft
glow mounted to her cheeks. John had never before
made love to this girl in bold, open word or action;
but always there had been a tacit understanding that
they were lovers. As children in play, they always
paired. Later, when separated by school and business,
they had kept in touch by letters. Now, when they
were both at home, they were much together, talking
and reading; or riding through country and town. It
was a foregone conclusion by all who made it their
JOHN ST. JOHN 11
concern that these two, so eminently fitted for each
other, would some day marry. John and Dora them-
selves could not remember the time when they were
not conscious of this taken-for-granted idea. To them,
so far, the course of true love had run very smoothly.
And they lived their days in sweet affection which
bathed their lives as the autumn sunlight bathed the
earth that peaceful afternoon.
The sun sank behind the big trees on the hill. The
birds twittered sleepily. The distant low of cattle came
from the meadows, mingling with the call of the herd-
And as the dusk of evening fell, John and Dora
were still talking on the bridge. Their tones were low.
They gazed, for the most part, into the darkening
waters below, as they leaned on the railing. They stood
quite close together. More from the power of instinct
than of purpose their hands had come together with a
firmly tender clasp.
Jane Fenton came out on the porch for the third
time, looking for the missing couple. She caught sight
of them down on the old bridge, and looked at them
for some time from under her hand.
"Huh! I thought he was going to help me crack
nuts!" she said.
12 JOHN ST. JOHN
John St. John was the only son of an only son.
Thomas St. John, his father, could trace his lineage to
the English nobility. Whether the title was now "dor-
mant, obeyant, or forfeited" Thomas St John would
not say, and John did not care enough to find out.
There was still a Mosstone Manor in England, and
there had been a coat of arms with a ''lion rampant"
as the chief figure on the field. Thomas' father had
been called Sir George for a time after his landing in
New England. He had, however, soon become Ameri-
canized, and had done some fighting in the Revolution-
Thomas, as a young man, had moved West, and then
as a middle-aged man had moved farther West. He
was one of the founders of Belford, had grown in
wealth with the city's growth, and was now the prin-
cipal banker of the town.
Fifteen years ago, he had built his home — one
befitting his rank and income — well out in the country.
He called it Moston. The town, since then, had ex-
tended after him, but it had not, as yet, reached him.
Moston still remained the quiet home with its dignified
air of seclusion and rest. The trees had grown big. The
house and grounds had taken upon themselves a be-
Here at Moston John St. John had lived most of
his life. As yet, he had not chosen any life's work, and,
truth to tell, his father was getting a little impatient at
JOHN ST. JOHN 13
his son's lack of decision. As an only child, the young
man's later years had been spent amid the luxury which
money can provide. Much of his time from home had
been spent at school. He had made various trips to
New York and to Boston. He had visited Europe,
whose charm had made him restless to go again. Now
he helped in the bank a few hours each day, but he
showed no signs of wanting to master the business so
that in time he could relieve his father. John had been
given full freedom of choice in the matter of choosing a
vocation. His father found no fault with him because
he did not take to banking, but he thought his son
should soon choose something — let it be lawyer, doctor,
or anything creditable.
For a year past, John had been reading much. He
read again his Pilgrim's Progress and his Paradise Lost
He read for the first time Fox's Book of Martyrs, and
became deeply interested in Martin Luther.
"Well," said the father, "if he is cut out for one,
let him become a preacher."
But John read rather more for the joy of reading
than for any more definite purpose.
When the missionary, only last week, had left the
Book of Mormon, John's curiosity was aroused. Here
was a new book on a new subject. Before he had half
completed its reading, he discovered that here was
something not only new, but different from anything
else he had ever seen.
Rebecca St. John, very likely, had spoiled her son
in the way that only sons are frequently spoiled; but
she was also her son's salvation. She had early trained
him to have no confidant before her, and so he had
14 JOHN ST. JOHN
always brought to her all his trials and troubles, little
and big. Many a time his mother had saved him from
physical and moral dangers because of this close
The day after John had told Dora of his "find,"
in which that young lady had shown such little interest,
he took the Book of Mormon to his mother. She was
sitting by the big window with her sewing. Here the
light was good and the view was beautiful. The young
man stood for a moment looking out on the velvety
lawns, the closely clipped hedges, the flowers and the
"Have I ever told you, mother, that this view
always reminds me of the grounds of what was once the
famous Mosstone Manor?" asked John.
"Yes; you have said that before. England must be
"It is. If I were not an American, I believe I would
live in Europe. There is much elegant ease there, which
appeals to me."
The mother looked up into his face.
"I don't know from whom I inherited that dis-
position," said he, as if he ought to apologize for it,
"Certainly, not from you or father. Perhaps from some
distant ancestor of Mosstone Manor. But, mother,
here is something I wish to show you." He handed her
"What is it?" she asked.
"You remember that young missionary who called
here last week?"
JOHN ST. JOHN 15
"Well, he left me this book, and I have been read-
ing it. I want your opinion of it."
The mother examined the volume carefully. She
read the title page and turned over some of the leaves.
It was a common looking book, and yet, what a train
of mighty events would spring from the perusal of its
John seated himself and repeated to his mother
what the missionary had told him. She neglected her
sewing. Her beautiful gray eyes opened wide at the
narration. Her face beamed. He read to her from the
book. For an hour he continued until he was reminded
that it was time for him to go to Jane Fenton's birth-
day party. The mother had declined the invitation,
and so when John had left, she picked up the book and
When Thomas St. John came home at early
twilight, he found his wife sitting by the window
turning the pages of her book to the fading light.
"Mother," he greeted, "you'll be straining your
eyes. Shall I light the lamp?"
"Oh, is it you?" She closed her book, her fingers
still between the leaves.
"What have you there so interesting?" he asked.
"A wonderful book, Thomas."
"One of John's, I suppose."
"No; a missionary left it. Sit down here, Thomas,
and let me tell you about it."
The husband pushed the window blind further
up, then seated himself in the chair which his son had
occupied earlier in the afternoon. He was a good look-
16 JOHN ST. JOHN
ing man, smooth-shaven, with closely cropped iron
The mother told the simple, surprising story which
the son had told her, adding what she had found first-
hand in the book. She spoke as a child speaks of a
wonderfully beautiful story which she believes to be
true, and which, as a matter of course, the listener
would also be pleased to hear. Thomas St. John bore
with the narration patiently. He tried always not to
offend the deeply religious nature of his wife, but this
"fairy tale" taxed his patience. He kept his temper
and his counsel, however, and when she had finished,
he simply changed the subject of conversation.
John came home early. Usually, of late, there had
been walkings with Dora back and forth across the
bridge, under the stars or the moon; but this evening
John felt as if he wanted to come home, and to his
mother. A strange soul-hunger was upon him. The
father was away for the evening, so there was no reason
why mother and son should not contentedly sit together
under the evening lamp and read the Book of Mormon.
Nothing more was said for the next few days to
either Dora Fenton or Thomas St. John about Joseph
Smith or the Nephite Record; but mother and son
communed in word and spirit closer than they had ever
done before. On the evening of the fifth day the read-
ing of the book was finished.
"Well, mother, what do you think of it?" asked
The mother did not reply for a moment, but she
opened the book again and turned to a page nearly at
JOHN ST. JOHN 17
"Here is a wonderful promise/' she said. "I noted
it when we read it the first time. Listen:"
" 'Behold I would exhort you that when you shall
read these things, if it is wisdom in God that ye should
read them, that ye would remember how merciful the
Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the
creation of Adam, even down to the time that ye shall
receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
" *And when ye shall receive these things, I would
exhort you that ye should ask God, the eternal Father,
in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and
if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, and with real intent,
having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it
unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.' "
^'"^ The mother closed the book "John, my
son, I have done that. Yesterday, I finished the reading
alone — I could not wait for you — and then I found that
promise. I have asked 'with sincere heart,' and Oh, my
boy, the Lord has revealed unto me that this Book of
Mormon is true."
The mother laid her hands tenderly on her son's
shoulders, and they stood looking into each other's
faces, as she said :
"What this knowledge will bring to me, to us all —
I cannot say; what trials it may bring — "
"But this I know that now my heart is full of joy,
and that in the end, if I am faithful, it will bring sal-
vation in God's kingdom My boy, you also,
must get this testim.ony. You, at least, must be with
me. I can not stand to be alone in this."
"How shall I get this testimony?"
18 JOHN ST. JOHN
"In the same way I did."
"But I don't know how. When I pray, I still
repeat the simple prayer you taught me long ago. How
can I do this, mother?"
"Talk to your Father in Heaven as you would to
your earthly parent. Ask him as you ask me, my son,
but ask 'with a sincere heart.' "
"Mother, I am not a religious man. You know,
I never was much of a church goer."
"But this is different. This I feel is real, God-
given. This will appeal to you more and more. Your
father and I may have spoiled you in many ways;
but you are clean; and, somehow, John, I feel that
in this which has come to us, you will prove yourself
true and strong."
They were standing by the favorite window. The
red of the sky fell on hill and meadow and river; it
streamed through the window and glowed on the
thoughtful faces of mother and son standing close
"Mother," said John, "I also believe, and Fll try
to get the same fuller knowledge which you have
She put her arms about him and kissed him
JOHN ST. JOHN 19
John St. John and his mother were in the rear
garden early that Sunday morning. The June apples
were reddening fast, the peaches were putting on color.
The upper part of the orchard was inclosed with a low
brick wall, now quite overrun with ivy. The side
bordering the path which led to the bridge and the
Fenton home contained a ragged breach, which be-
cause of a neglect to repair it, became a short cut be-
tween the two neighbors.
That morning, Jane Fenton climbed nimbly over
the broken wall and ran up to Mrs. St. John.
"I brought you a piece of my birthday cake/'
"Thank you, Jane, I am sure it is nice."
"Don't give John any. He ate his share last
evening." She looked at the young man as if daring
him to deny that.
"I surely did," laughed John. He picked the
reddest apple he could find and tossed it to Jane. "Try
it, it's nearly ripe. Little girls as well as big boys
like the taste of a new apple, just a little before it gets
Jane nibbled at the apple. "M-m, it's good,"
"And how's Dora this morning?" he asked.
"She wasn't up when I left."
"Well, Jane, when you go back tell her for me that
I'll drive around for her this afternoon. I want her to
20 JOHN ST. JOHN
go to town with me and mother to attend that meeting
I spoke to her about."
Jane promised to do this, though she was tempted
to tell of the cross things her sister had said about
this very thing. However, she said nothing, and after
lingering in the garden as long as she thought proper
for a little girl, she went back home with her message,
and another apple.
"Do you think father will go with us?" asked
John of his mother.
"I think not. He has said very little about
the excitement which the meetings are creating in
town, and that, as you know, is not a good sign."
Mother and son walked about in the garden,
talking. They were much together of late. The mission-
ary who left the Book of Mormon had visited them
again and had talked further with them. He and his
companions were holding a series of meetings in Bel-
ford. John and his mother had promised to attend
their meeting that afternoon.
Shortly after one o'clock, John drove his span of
grays up the gravelly path to the Fenton house. Mrs.
St. John sat in the back seat alone, Mr. St. John having
gone to town earlier. He would join them later, —
perhaps. Mrs. Fenton had said she could not go, Jane
had not been invited, so Dora appeared alone, all
ready. John alighted and helped her up. She chose
the back seat with the mother, at which John grum-
Belford was going to church when the banker's
carriage drove into town; but the Sunday-clad people
were not going to the unpretentious hall where the
JOHN ST. JOHN 21
"Mormons" were to preach. There were comments and
shaking of heads when they saw John drive up to the
"common" hall, tie his team and help his mother and
Miss Fenton to alight.
The meeting room, though small, was only half
filled. Mrs. St. John felt a little nervous; Dora was not
at ease because of pride and prejudice; but John was
at home. He shook hands with the missionaries, and
introduced them to his mother and Dora.
The services began with song and prayer. Then,
one of the Elders, as the preachers called themselves,
began to speak. John listened closely. The discourse
must have been carefully planned. Point by point the
theme was developed, every position clearly stated,
then proved by scripture and logic. His language, his
reasoning, was faultless. His sentences rung clear and
strong. Surely, here was an orator of no small ability.
But what was he doing in this humble church whose
ministers preach without a salary?
He was followed by the second Elder who was
shorter in stature and older in years. His speech was
somewhat halting and his expressions crude. He did
not attempt to deliver a well-planned discourse. He
told a straightforward story of the earthly visitations
and ministrations of heavenly beings. He spoke of the
restoration of the Gospel, of the organization of the
Church, of the young Prophet who was even then,
with his brethren seeking a place in the West, "near
the borders of the Lamanites," where his persecuted
followers might rest and build up the latter-day Zion.
Fervently, sim^ly^^e bore his testimony to the truth
of these thingsi As John listened, his heart burned as
22 JOHN ST. JOHN
with a sweet fire. The first speaker had appealed to
the intellect, the second spoke to the heart, and moved
it to joyous response.
When the speaker closed, John turned to the
shining face of his mother, and said simply, "He told
-^^ Dora was silent on the way home. In fact, there
was very little said by any of them. Dora declined
John's invitation for her to continue on with them to
Moston, so he Hfted her down at her own gate.
Thomas St. John was already at home, awaiting
wife and son. When John saw his father, he had fore-
bodings of coming unpleasantness. Up to this time,
the father had treated with silent contempt this new
religious propaganda. Foolish, fickle people might take
up with faddists and imposters, but his own family,
surely, would not. Even when the Elders of the new
faith had been to the house a number of times, he was
merely annoyed. But now he was angry.
"I feel outraged in my feelings," he said to them.
"You have invited these men to our home, and now
you attend their meetings. You will be the talk of the
town. Who is this Joe Smith, anyway?"
The others said nothing. They knew from ex-
perience, that at such times, silence was the best.
"A treasure digger, a gold-plate fakir, an ignorant
fanatic!" exclaimed the father, in answer to his own
questions. "If you want to get religion" — turning to
John — "get some respectable kind that will not dis-
grace us all ... . And remember, I will not have you
dragging your mother about with you on this business!"
JOHN ST. JOHN 23
I went of my own choice, Thomas," quietly de-
clared the mother.
"And I supposed you urged Dora to go with you,
though I happen to know that it was against her
wishes," he continued, speaking directly to John, who
"She appeared willing enough to go, father,—
and Fm sure she heard nor saw nothing to be ashamed
of. I think there is a lot of good common sense in this
'Mormonism,' and if you, father — "
"Well, think as you please. You've had pretty
much your own way all your life, and I suppose if you
take a fancy to this crazy thing, my warning will not
turn you from it."
"Father, I know I have everything a young fellow
could ask for, and I want you to know that I appreciate
all you have done for me. I haven't amounted to much,
so far, one way or another; but I must admit that what
I have learned from these men, does take hold of me.
It clears much that has been dark and answers many
questions which have found vague lodgment in my
"Well," grunted the father in a somewhat calmer
mood, "that, I suppose is something to be grateful for."
By this time, the three had seated themselves
about the dining room table, on which the father
drummed with his fingers.
"Yes, I think so, too," replied John, seeing that
his father's anger had modified; "and I can promise
you, father, that I shall not join the 'Mormons' until
I am perfectly satisfied that it is the right thing to do.
I am not in that condition yet. Surely, there can be no
24 JOHN ST. JOHN
harm in reading their books and Hstening to their
arguments. I've done that, more or less, with nearly
every religion in the neighborhood, and youVe never
"In what way?"
"I — I don't know, only that it is — I'm not going
to argue with you. Young man, you do as I tell you.
Behave yourself and leave Joe Smith and his golden
The father arose, walked to the open window.
The mother slipped out. There was silence in the room
for a time, then the father turned again to his son.
"John," he said with quiet emotion, "you are my
only child, and all I have is yours. You know that.
You are to carry on our name and all that it has hon-
orably stood for in the past. I am depending on you . . .
Do not disappoint me."
"Father, I hope I shall never disgrace our name,
"Then stop this 'investigating' as you call it, of
the 'Mormons.' It is unsafe. The Rev. Mr. Thomson
has told me all about it, and what trouble the sect is
creating wherever they locate. Don't mix up with them.
Dora doesn't like what you are doing. She's a mighty
fine, sensible girl. Marry her, and settle down to a good
Christian life here at Moston, or any where else you
choose. I will give you what start you need in any line
The young man was deeply moved by his father's
earnest words. Was it not true, all this which his
father was saying? The prospects held out were cer-
JOHN ST. JOHN 25
tainly very pleasant, very alluring, especially so when
placed against the dark picture which the mission-
aries had at times painted. John looked about as if he
wanted his mother, wanted to get her hand and hold
it. The young man dropped his head and looked down
to the table.
"Now then, my boy," pleaded the father, "go
right over to Dora and tell her what I want you to."
He looked out of the window. "I think she is out on
her porch now, waiting for you."
The father left the room. John sat in deep thought
for a long time, but he did not go away from the house.
It was late that evening before he found his mother
26 JOHN ST. JOHN
The strawberries were ripe in Mrs. Fenton's
garden, and she was out in it superintending the pick-
ing. Since her husband's death, some five years ago,
she had become a capable business woman. The straw-
berry crop was large, this season, and the market was
good. Enwrapped in a big blue apron, and shaded by
a straw hat, she worked with cups and cases all morning.
Jane was at school. Dora was housekeeper. After
the noon-day meal of berries with cream and bread
and butter, the mother went back to the picking, while
Dora washed the dishes and tidied up the house.
In the middle of the afternoon, John St. John
came. He found Dora on the porch with sewing in her
hands. John perched himself on the railing, and
fanned his hot face with his hat. Dora's dress of pale
blue was protected by a white apron. She looked
so fresh and sweet that John's eyes could not long
rest on any other object.
Strawberries were talked about for a time. Then
John changed the subject with: ''Dora, father told me
you went with mother and me last Sunday against
your wishes. Is that so?"
The color deepened in the girl's cheeks. **Why,
no — " she began evadingly. ''I was glad enough to go
with you, John; but I don't want to go again."
John left the railing and seated himself more
firmly in a chair near the girl. He looked at her in a
way he had seldom done.
JOHN ST. JOHN 27
"I am sorry I was the cause of your annoyance,"
he said. "Fm sorry, also that you will not go again,
for I think I shall.''
"Of course, you may do as you please about that."
"Dora," continued John in the same even tone,
"all our lives we have been together. I cannot believe
that we have now come to a parting of the ways. I
have never thought of anything other than that we
two should be together always." His hand closed
firmly on hers as it lay among the sewing. She did not
object, but as he spoke, she sat very still, the color in
her cheeks alternately glowing and receding.
"I hope, Dora, that because something really
serious has come into my life you will not think the
less of me."
"You should let forbidden things alone," she
"Forbidden things? What are forbidden things
to you? Surely, religion is not one of them."
"Some kinds are Oh, John, please don't be
"I am trying hard not to be; but, Dora, something
has come to me not altogether of my choosing. God
knows that — and now that it has come, I must meet it
manfully I have trodden the velvety path all
my life, and I may have become weak, but I hope I am
not altogether devoid of manly strength. I want to
meet this situation fairly. I hope I shall never be afraid
of the truth, let it come in whatsoever guise it may,
even if it should lift me out of the deep rut of ease."
John looked his best as he thus talked, and Dora
did not fail to see it. Her heart went out to him, though
28 JOHN ST. JOHN
she was concerned at his attendance at the "Mormon"
meetings. She did not want to be hfted out of her "rut
of ease." She did not court a stern, hard duty which
would surely bring her into the contempt of her friends.
She said to herself that her soul was not in immediate
danger, neither was John's. Why, therefore, all this
The afternoon sun becoming uncomfortably warm,
Dora invited John in. They took their accustomed
places in the long cushioned window seat. Dora tried
to lead the conversation away from disturbing themes,
but John would not follow. At the first opening, he
"Dora, Fve about given up that trip to Europe."
"Is that so— why?"
"I think I'll go West instead."
"West? How far?"
"Oh, John, not to the 'Mormons!' "
"Yes; I want to see the people. Dora, I want to
see Joseph Smith."
Tears welled into the girl's eyes, whether of
sorrow or of vexation John could not tell. After a
pause, he went on :
"I've been reading a lot of their literature; now
I want to see the people themselves. I want to see and
hear the Prophet. I think that's the only way I can
get the light I need to help me determine what I shall
"But, John, you'll not become a 'Mormon,' " she
cried in real alarm as she clung to him.
"That, dear girl, I cannot say. I am going to
JOHN ST. JOHN 29
prove this thing, if I can; and then, we'll leave the
result with the Lord. I hope He will give me strength
to do the right, at the same time that He gives me light
to see it.''
"What does your father say?"
"Father, I fear, does not understand; he is angry
with me, I am sorry to say."
"And your mother?"
"Mother is different."
"Yes, I've noticed that."
There was little more to say just then for either
of them. Jane came rushing in from school, rejoicing
in the fact that vacation was near at hand. John was
treated to a heaping dish of berries before he left to
attend to a matter of business in town.
June roses bloomed profusely in the gardens at
Moston and at Fenton's. The busy strawberry time
passed, and other fruits came into season. Mrs. Fenton
was still busy, and for that matter, so was Dora and
Jane. John visited as usual, though sometimes now
he missed a day or even two, making up afterwards by
long daytime visits. Mrs. Fenton noticed the changed
manner of the young couple. Their long intimate
talks which sometimes ended in tear-stained faces did
not disturb the mother. These things were frequently
favorable indications of a near approach to a happy
June passed into warmer July, and changes
seemed to come to the people as well as to the months.
Thomas St. John was more firmly set than ever against
the course his son was taking. The mother, naturally
quiet and gentle, became even more subdued. Dora
30 JOHN ST. JOHN
did not laugh so much, nor did she read so many of the
latest English novels. Jane, at the sight of the sober
faces about her, was not in the mood to tease her sister
and her ''big brother John." Mrs. Fenton even began
to worry about the outcome of the match upon which
she had set her heart, and began to lay the trouble to
* 'John's adventures in religion."
To John St. John, that summer was ever mem-
orable. Being born again of the Spirit is no trivial
matter. John's nature changed. From a somewhat
careless manner of life, he took upon himself a strict-
ness which reached even to his habits of thinking. He
quit using tobacco in any form, and ceased indulging
in the "social glass." He attended the church services
at Belford, first one and then another of the denomi-
nations, not only to test out his own growing convic-
tions of where the truth lay, but also somewhat to ap-
pease his father.
The "Mormon" elders did not come any more to
Moston, but John met them in Belford, attended their
public meetings when these were held, and sat for many
hours with them in their lodgings. From them he
learned the latest news "from the front." The "Mor-
mons" had been driven from Independence, and were
now located in Caldwell and adjacent counties, where
they were making the wild prairie lands into farms. The
town of Far West was growing, and prospects for com-
fortable homes in that and nearby communities were
The tie between John and his mother grew even
closer, if that were possible, during those summer days,
when, try as he would to prevent it, the rift between
JOHN ST. JOHN 31
himself and his father, grew wider. Mother and son
could talk plainly and without restraint on the truths
which had come to them; and when they thus com-
muned with each other, the sorrow in their hearts
because of others was alleviated by the sweet peace
which the Gospel brings. The mother admonished
John to be, more than ever, kind and considerate in
dealing with his father; ''for," said she, "if the restored
gospel is what I think it is, it will make all whom it
touches more gentle and more forbearing." And
John heeded his mother's advice, and tried, with
varying success, to curb his temper and his tongue.
As July closed, John became restless to be off to
the West. The father told him at last to "go and get
your fill." The mother, though yet somewhat fearful,
thought it best for him to go. Dora was mute,
Mrs. Fenton was angry, and Jane was tearful. Never-
theless, John made ready for the trip.
The evening before his departure, John was at the
Fenton's. He tried his best to be cheerful, and he
succeeded fairly well. Mrs. Fenton reminded him that
all seriously-minded young people pass through a
period of religion-getting, even as children have the
measles. Usually, it passes off, leaving them none the
worse. But this case of John's was getting abnormal.
John merely laughed, and then suggested to Dora that
the garden was enticing by the Hght of the rising moon.
As they walked down the gravelly path that
evening, neither could tell whether or not this parting
might not be forever. It was quite possible that here
and now their ways would part, and this possibility
weighed heavily upon them both.
32 JOHN ST. JOHN
At last, when they had been sitting in silence for
some time on the rustic seat, Dora found her tongue,
and pleaded with him not to go. "You are your parents'
only child. Your father needs you — his hopes have been
with you — you will break his heart."
"No; ril not do that," he rephed. "Vm doing
nothing of a heart-breaking nature It's only
a visit, Dora. Very likely, Fll be back before winter."
"Fm so fearful."
"There is nothing to fear." He drew her close to
him. "But there is much for which to be glad."
"It's a long way to Missouri, and the traveling,
I understand, is often rough and dangerous."
"It's nothing serious, I am sure. I'll write you
often and tell you all about it."
"What is it, John, that draws you away from me?
I can't understand."
"It seems that only those who get the call can
"Have you received a call?"
"In a way, yes."
"In what way — tell me."
"He who is not willing to leave father and mother,
houses and lands — "
"It hasn't come to that yet?"
"No, my dear, not yet."
"But it may?"
"Yes, it may."
"And then, John, Oh, then?"
"Why then, Dora, we must all be brave and strong.
We are all in the hands of the Lord."
JOHN ST. JOHN 33
"John, you are leaving me! I do love you,
John. You know that."
"Yes, Dora, I know — and I love you, too. All
our lives we have loved each other, but it is only within
the last few weeks that we have told it in words. It's
all so strange, so sweetly strange, my darling."
They clung to each other silently, these two, as
if they had forebodings of what lay before them. The
faint night-noises sounded loudly on the still air
"Dora, do you know that I am doing this as much
for your sake as for mine?"
"No, John, I do not," she whispered.
"I am. I can't quite explain it even to myself,
but I feel that way. Some day Fll know, and you'll
know," he said prophetically.
Then they walked slowly back to the house.
Apparently Jane and her mother had gone to bed. John
and Dora lingered on the porch. He kissed her tenderly
before he would let her go, then she ran into the house.
John walked slowly down the path. Then the
door opened again, and Jane's voice called: "John,
Mr. John St. John, you didn't say good night and good-
by to me."
John turned. Jane was standing on the steps in
her white night-gown. He came back to her, and she
clasped him about the neck.
"Goodby," she said with a catch in her voice.
"Goodby, Jane, and God bless you."
He kissed her, and she went slowly back.
34 JOHN ST. JOHN
Far West, Missouri,
September 15, 1838.
My Dear Father and Mother: — I am in the midst of
wonderfully strange scenes, scenes quite different from
the peaceful quiet of Belford and Moston. I am not
at all clear just what will be the outcome of all this un-
rest, but I mean to remain here for a time, and, perhaps,
In my brief letter which I sent from St. Louis, I
told you the most important happenings up to that
time. We left St. Louis the next day, steamed up the
Mississippi river to where the Missouri enters, then
proceeded up that stream. We stopped for a few
hours in Jefferson City, where I began to realize for
the first time that I was in Missouri, for we heard a lot
of talk about the "Mormons," and what a wicked,
lawless people they were. A man whom I met in Jeffer-
son City, and who came with us up the river, advised
me to keep away from the upper part of the state, for,
said he, "it will be only a short time until the 'Mormons'
will be entirely driven from the state."
The Missouri river is surely the muddiest, crooked-
est, snaggiest, of streams! Progress was slow. Some-
times we would travel thirty miles around a promontory
where the land distance across the narrow neck would
be but a few miles.
One afternoon, a party of us left the boat and
walked across just such an isthmus. The captain said
JOHN ST. JOHN 35
he would pick us up before dark, but the boat ran into
a sand-bank and did not reach us until the gray of the
next morning. And there we were! Luckily, we had
no women with us. We built a big fire and made the
best of a bad bargain. My, but didn't the corn bread
and bacon taste good that morning!
Life on board a river steamer is full of varied ex-
experiences. The passengers are a strange mixture.
Those on our boat ranged from a grave college profes-
sor from St. Louis, out for a vacation, to the "toughs"
who carried the cord wood on board and fed it to the
furnace under the boiler. There was some high life
on board, and I am sorry to say, a lot of whisky drink-
ing and card playing. I found my Jefferson City
friend who had such a poor opinion of the "Mormons"
among those who spent most of their waking hours
about the card table.
Even on board, there was a lot of talk about the
"Mormons." Nearly everybody freely expressed opin-
ions, and for the most part, no one had a good word for
them. The Prophet was spoken of as "Joe Smith,"
or "Old Joe Smith."
It pained me to hear a man whom I hold in high
regard talked of in such disrespectful terms. I said
nothing, however, as I did not feel able, with my limited
knowledge of local affairs, to enter into any dispute.
One young man attracted my attention the second day
out from St. Louis. He was a quiet, gentlemanly sort of
fellow who frequently stood listening to the talk about
him. One day I was sure there was a pained expression
on his face as a half tipsy man was boasting of what he
had seen and done in Jackson County. The young
36 JOHN ST. JOHN
man moved away to the railing, and stood looking
wistfully at the woods which stretched away from the
left bank of the river. I felt as if I wanted to speak to
him, so I went up to him and said:
"I am John St. John. I am on my way to Far
West. Perhaps you are going in that direction."
He looked at me searchingly for a moment, then
as if satisfied, he held out his hand.
*'I am," he said with a smile. "I am glad to meet
"And I want to tell you," I continued, "that I am
not yet what the Missourians call a 'Mormon,' although
I am leaning strongly that way. I am going to Far
West to learn more about them. You appear to be
different from the other men on board."
"Thank you," he said. "My name is Henry
Freland. I hope I am different." He hung on to my
hand longer than is usual at first greetings. "Come
over here where we can talk more freely."
We walked forward to the end of the boat and sat
down on some coils of rope. Then we talked. He
seemed overjoyed to find someone he could speak freely
to, someone he could trust, as he expressed it.
Henry Freland had a long story to tell, and I can
only give you a small part of it in this letter. He said
he was a member of the Church called "Mormon."
He was just returning from a preaching mission to
Kentucky and Indiana. He had stopped for a few
months at St. Louis working to earn a little money,
but on hearing that there was trouble brewing again
for his people, he left his work to hasten homeward.
Five years ago, he told me, he, with father, mother and
JOHN ST. JOHN 37
two sisters had been driven from their home near
Independence, in Jackson County. They had pur-
chased a farm there, and had it well under way for the
raising of good crops. They had built a rude but quite
comfortable log house, and were happy in the thought
that they were helping to lay the "foundations of Zion."
One cold, wintry night, while both he and his
father were away, a mob drove his mother and sisters
out from their shelter. Then they set fire to the
house. Father and son found their loved ones wander-
ing in the woods with many others who had suffered
the same mistreatment. Henry, (I call him that al-
ready, for we are like brothers) choked in the telling of
his story. Tears trickled down his face, and I fear my
eyes were wet also, of which I am not ashamed.
The morning after, early, I found Henry gazing
intently at the shore. He smiled when I came up to
"What are you looking at?" I asked.
"Do you see that elevation just to the right of
those trees? Well, Tve stood on that many a time and
looked at the glories of Zion. We are now skirting
Jackson County, and about five miles in this direction
lies Independence. As you see, the country is beauti-
fully rolling, and there is no finer spot in all the world
than the 'Center place of Zion.' Our farm is about
in this direction, as far as I can make out. It is a lovely
piece of land. I suppose some member of that mob had
his eye on it and is occupying it by now.''
"Surely not! What about the law?"
Henry laughed, and simply shrugged his shoulder.
That you, father and mother, might more fully
38 JOHN ST. JOHN
understand, let me explain as Henry did to me, that the
Lord indicated to Joseph the Prophet that Missouri
is the land of promise and the place for the city of Zion;
and Independence is the "center place." Even the
spot for the Temple has been selected and dedicated.
The ''Mormons" began gathering to Independence in
1831, but were driven out by mobs in 1833, going
north across the river into Clay county and then later
into Caldwell and adjacent counties, where they are at
We left the boat at Lexington Landing. When I
asked my friend how we were to get to Far West, about
thirty miles away, he said : ''Walk." That did not appeal
to me. I could, perhaps, have trudged the distance,
but Henry had quite a bundle, in which was hidden a
rifle — the best he could buy in St. Louis, he told me,
with fire in his eye. There were no regular stages up
into Caldwell which we could use, so I determined to
buy a horse — which I did. Henry agreed that a horse
would be a useful animal to have.
We loaded what baggage we had on Nig, as we
named our horse, and we took turns riding while the
other walked. We got along very well this way. We
passed through some beautiful country, now adorned
in its autumn colors. The scarlet of the sumac and the
gold of the hickory relieved the green of the forests.
Wild grapes clung to magnificent oaks. The persim-
mons needed a little more frost to turn their acid
We were really two happy fellows. Henry is
about my age, a little older. He has such laughing
eyes, which can, I reckon, do more at times than laugh.
JOHN ST. JOHN 39
His smile is like a girl's. (You will discern by this
time that I am quite in love with him).
He insisted on my doing most of the riding. He
said he was used to walking, having "legged it" over
a good part of the states of Kentucky and Indiana.
So while I rode, he walked by me with his hand on Nig's
mane, and told me more about his experiences in
Jackson County. He changed the subject, at times,
by explaining many of the principles of the gospel.
Never mind, mother, just how we passed the night.
We were quite comfortable, not far from Nig.
On the second day, about ten miles from Far West,
we were met by a party of armed horsemen. At the sight
of them in the road ahead, Henry, who was walking,
instinctively placed his hand on the bundle as if he
would pull his rifle from it; but he did not do so. The
party rode up to us with a clatter, and one whom I
suppose was the leader, greeted us with:
"Halloo, men, where to?"
"Just up into the country, looking about," I
The question was directed to me, so I could truth-
fully say I was not; but the fellow angered me by his
insolence and I could not refrain from asking him:
"What's that to you?"
> "Young feller," he replied, "in this state there are
two classes of people: 'Mormons' an' whites. It's
lucky fer you that you belong to the whites."
^ * "Well, gentlemen, I don't know much about the
'Mormons;' but this is a free country, isn't it?"
"You bet it is, an' we're using our rights as free
40 JOHN ST. JOHN
American citizens to rid the country of the pesky
'Mormons/ We'd advise you to keep away from any
of their towns."
"Thank you, gentlemen," I said, in as free a manner
as I could, giving my horse a kick to urge him forward.
They did not hinder us from going on. They
appeared to hold a council after we had passed, whether
or not to let us go, but after a time, they rode away.
Henry had been very quiet during the interview.
Now he breathed a sigh of relief. He acknowledged
that it would have been hard for him to have let them
taken us prisoners without a fight. "Some of them,
and very likely, some of us would have been hurt," he
said. "I'm mighty thankful, for your sake, that they
did not try."
We arrived in this place (Far West) last week.
Henry did not meet his folks as they had moved to a
place called De Witt. We will remain here a few days,
and then I think, I shall accompany my friend to his
This place is a brand new town, alive with growth.
Most of the houses are log cabins, but there are stores,
shops, and hotels. The streets are all laid out at right
angles, with a public square in the center. I hope to
tell you more about the country later.
I am well and feeling fine. Give my love to the
Fentons. Tell Dora I shall write her shortly. Address
your next letter to Far West, Caldwell County, Mo.
With love to you all, I am, sincerely your son,
P. S. Yesterday, after I had written this letter, I
saw the Prophet for the first time. As this letter is
already long, I shall tell you all about it in my next. J.S.J.
JOHN ST. JOHN 41
De Witt, Carroll Co., Mo.
Oct. 10, 1838.
Dear Folks at Home : — It is now nearly a month since
I sent you a letter from Far West, in which I promised
to write you regarding my meeting with the Prophet;
but things have happened so swiftly since then that I
have been hindered. Even now I may be interrupted
at any moment. Sister Freland insists that I write
this letter, and Louise is backing up the demand by
flourishing Henry's new rifle. But more of the local
news later. Let me tell you about the Prophet.
I had been in Far West a few days before I saw
Joseph Smith. He is a very busy man, going from one
settlement to another, giving instruction to the people,
and trying to adjust the difficulties which are constantly
arising. I had stopped one sunny Saturday afternoon
to watch some boys who were playing ball on the
public square, when a man who came swinging down
the street attracted my attention. Just then, the boy
at the bat sent a high-fly away to right field where
there was no fielder at the time. The man saw the ball
coming, ran quickly under it, caught it neatly, and
with an easy swing, threw it in. He laughed with the
boys as if he enjoyed the sport as much as they, which
he no doubt did, for it was the Prophet Joseph Smith.
The boys would not now let him go. They urged him
to come and take his turn at the bat, which he did, and
he kept the fielders busy for a time.
42 JOHN ST. JOHN
As I think of it now, it seems s'trange that my first
meeting with the Prophet should be in such a simple,
everyday manner; and yet it agreed with the manner
of the man. After he had batted the ball for a time,
he left the boys and came on down the street where I
was standing watching the game. I wanted to speak
to him, but debated with myself whether or not it
would be proper. However, he seemed to discern my
thoughts, and when he reached me, he stopped, looked
at me keenly for an instant, then with a pleasant
smile held out his hand.
Although I knew I stood in the presence of a proph-
et of the Lord, all timidity left me. As he held my
hand, he seemed to draw me to him with a magnetic
power. I talked to him as freely as I would to an in-
timate friend. I told him my name and why I had come
to Missouri. I shall never forget the smile on his face,
the few words he spoke, and the manner in which he
placed his hand on my shoulder and blessed me. That
r~was all, and he was gone.
j I have tried not to have any false or foolish notions
I of what a prophet should be. I never did think it
\ necessary for a prophet to be a long-faced, sancti-
\ monious personage with hands clasped as if in perpetual
prayer, and eyes turned up to heaven, so I was not
disappointed in Joseph Smith. He is a man. That tells
it better than much description — a fine, vigorous,
young man, thirty-three years old; over six feet high;
expansive chest; soft light-brown hair, inclined to
waviness; keen, clear, penetrating eyes of bluish color;
clean shaven face, with his soul shining unhindered
through a clear complexion.
JOHN ST. JOHN 43
The next day was Sunday, and I heard him preach.
I have heard many preachers, but none Hke this one.
He truly spoke as ''one having authority.'' His language
was neither polished nor always grammatically correct,
but his voice was wonderfully sweet, not with the melody
of words, but with the power of the Spirit; and by that
same Spirit, what he said was carried with convincing
force to the hearts of his hearers. I, with others,
listened enwrapped. Although our seats were made of
rough lumber and our meeting place was crude and
cold, yet these things were immaterial. He spoke of
the gospel truths, not as if he had learned them from
books, but as if they were a part of him, spring-
ing up naturally from some inner source.
I have heard him a number of times since that
first day, and always have his words sunk deep into my
heart with convincing power.
But now I must tell you a little of my doings and
the people about me, both the good and the bad. I am
writing this at the home of the Freland's. I came here
from Far West some two weeks ago with Henry. Be-
fore leaving Far West, I purchased another horse and
a wagon. The wagon is not in the best condition, but
it carried us and a few boxes of provisions safely to this
place. Brother and Sister Freland received me as if I
were one of their own, and it is good to have such
friends in this new and strange country. When I
carried my boxes into the house, I explained to Sister
Freland that a boarder should pay something for his
Henry has two sisters; Louise, aged about nine-
teen; (I should judge) and Marinda, who is fifteen.
44 JOHN ST. JOHN
(I have her own word for Marinda's age.)
They are two very good girls, taking with
good courage this pioneer Hfe and its hardships.
Marinda is a frail girl, not having been well
since the Jackson County mobbing when she caught
a severe cold. This family left a good home in York
state to gather with the people of their own faith. It's
hard enough to settle a new country without having to
be driven about by mobs while doing it.
"Isn't it, Louise?" I looked up from my writing
I read to her the sentence I had written. Tears
welled in her eyes, but she brushed them away and
smiled. She had placed Henry's gun in the corner
again and was busy with some sewing. I went on with
I ought to explain that most of the people here
are still living in wagons and tents, not having had time
to build houses. Brother Freland has a two-room log
house. Crude and rough it is, but its occupants bring
into it a good deal of cheer and comfort.
We are not free from molestation. On the twelfth
of last month, a large party of men, made up of mob-
ocrats from other sections threatened this place,
notifying the people of De Witt that they must leave
by the first of the month. However, the people here
have a legal right to remain on their lands and in their
homes, and they have appealed to Governor Boggs
for protection. As yet, we have heard nothing from
him. Meanwhile, there is much unrest and uncertainty.
JOHN ST. JOHN 45
Far West, Mo.
Oct. 15, 1838.
I observe that I broke off wiiting from DeWitt
somewhat abruptly. I shall now try to explain, and to
finish this letter. Just as I wrote the last line,
Henry Freland entered the house hurriedly.
"The mob is here," he announced, as he snatched
up his rifle and a bag of ammunition. I left off writing
and went with him to where the men of the town were
gathering. There was much excitement, for parties
of mobbers were coming from various directions for
the evident purpose of laying siege to our little
We were in no condition to fight them, even if
that had been advisable. For a number of days we
watched them gathering. On the second, they began
firing at us. Although they had a cannon and plenty
of small arms, the enemy did very little personal in-
jury, not being near enough to us. The firing continued
the next day. Then we organized ourselves for defense
under Colonel Hinkle, and returned their fire. I don't
think we inflicted any damage on our enemies, but it
reheved somewhat the pressure on our feelings. Henry
looked as if he could defeat the whole band of
mobocrats. Fll admit I was a raw soldier, this being
my first experience with actual warfare.
There was very little food in the settlement, and
now, when every avenue of supply was cut off, pro-
visions became scarce. The little I had brought with
me helped us materially, though, of course, we could
not be selfish, but divided with our neighbors. The
whole community was soon reduced to rations, and
46 JOHN ST. JOHN
then shortly there was nothing to divide. Our cattle
had been driven off, and ofttimes in the night we saw
the fires by which they were roasted to feed the mob-
bers. If any of us ventured beyond the settlement in
search of horse or cow, he was shot at. The nights
became cold. The few houses, ours among the rest,
were crowded with women and children. Henry and
I slept in a wagon box with a canvas for cover.
In the midst of this phght, the Prophet came to us.
How he had escaped the vigilance of the mob was a
marvel; but by traversing unfrequented paths through
woods under cover of darkness, he had managed to reach
us. We were wonderfully cheered by his presence.
The messenger which we had sent to the Governor
now returned, and he delivered this reply: "The
quarrel is between the 'Mormons' and the mob, and
they must fight it out."
There was no hope, we could see, from those whose
sworn duty it was to give us protection. We were
being worn out and starving. The mob said that if
the "Mormons" would leave, they would pay them for
their lands. As nothing better seemed possible, the
people of De Witt entered into an agreement to leave.
There were very few horses or oxen with which to move.
One of my horses was lost. All Brother Freland's
cattle and horses were gone. Our one remaining horse
was hitched with a neighbor's to my wagon. Place was
found for the women and children of both families, and
a few bundles of clothing were crowded in. We started
for Far West on the afternoon of the eleventh. There
was many a sorry spectacle in that company, for we
were already a sad, wornout lot of people. As we pulled
JOHN ST. JOHN 47
out across the country, the mobbers occasionally fired
after us. We were not sure but that they might come
upon us and destroy the whole company. That day
we traveled about twelve miles toward Far West and
camped in a grove.
Never before have I been so tired and hungry, and
yet I could not rest nor sleep. Some of the brethren,
however, lay down on the cold ground and slept the
sleep of utter exhaustion. What a night that was! I
want to forget it, though I seem to hear yet the moans
of the sick and the dying, and the pitiful crying of the
children in the cold night!
About midnight, Henry came to me as I was
taking my turn to stand guard.
"Marinda is dying!" he said.
"What? Oh, Henry!"
"Yes, I couldn't stand it, so I came here. The
folks are with her."
I put my arms about him. He was trembling,
mute for a time, and tearless. Then he managed to
say: "Let me take your place. You go and say goodby
to her. I — have — already — done so."
I could not protest or refuse. I went to the wagon,
and by the dim lantern light I saw the frail form of the
little girl lying with her head in her mother's lap. She
recognized me as I bent forward into the light. Her
eyes opened for a moment, she smiled faintly, then in
a few moments, she died.
(I have for the first time been in the presence of
death. I can not tell you here what were my thoughts
Next morning the camp was astir early. Then we
48 JOHN ST. JOHN
learned that Marinda's spirit had had company heaven-
ward: a Mrs. Jensen, still very ill from child-birth, had
died during the night. Graves were dug that morning,
and Marinda and the mother were laid away without
coffins or burial clothes. And there, under the sod, in
unmarked graves, they lie until the resurrection day.
On the twelfth we crawled into Far West.
Dear Folks, I am writing all this simply because I
promised you I would withhold nothing. I do not like
to distress you with a sad narrative, but perhaps there
will be some good come out of my story.
And now, I am going to tell you a very important
piece of news: yesterday, I was baptized. I am now a
member of the Church, which means, I suppose, that
my lot for good or ill is cast with this people. I am con-
vinced that what I have done is right. I couldn't
wait longer. I needed the strength which a member-
ship in the Church of Christ gives; I needed the endow-
ment of the Holy Ghost; I need to be a part of the
Vine — one of its branches — that I may draw substance
from a Divine source.
My letter is again long. I want to tell more how I
feelf but ril wait until I write again. Love to you,
dear parents — and to the Fentons. I shall write again
to Dora, soon — tell her. I am eagerly waiting to hear
from you all. Meanwhile, may the peace and the
protection of the Lord be about us, is the sincere
JOHN ST. JOHN 49
Far West, Missouri,
Oct. 20, 1838.
My Dear Mother: — I have just received your letter
written from Belford. It has given me both joy and
pain — joy to hear from you, pain to learn that my
father has cast off his only son. Well, dear mother, I
shall remember him still in my prayers, as I am sure,
you always do. Dora might have inclosed a note, but
I shall try to be satisfied with her love message sent
May I forget for a few moments the scenes of
sorrow and dread about me as I make my pen talk to
you. I wish I could be with you for a little while, to
sit with you in the window-seat. I could tell you of
many things which I have learned. (Not the least of
my happiness would be in the knowledge of a pantry
full of good things; or perhaps, Jane — bless her heart —
would come running to us with a plate of cookies, all
made by herself.)
There has come to me a wonderful peace since I
joined the Church — a peace easier to feel and know than
to describe. It is not a surface satisfaction — for often
I am fiercely angered by what I see, but cannot prevent
— but it is as if a light came directly from the
Celestial Presence and shone into the innermost re-
cesses of my heart, there to glow with warmth and
peace and love. It must be, dear mother, a taste of
50 JOHN ST. JOHN
; that peace spoken of by Paul as the fruits of the Spirit
j which "passeth understanding."
^ I grieve for father, and truthfully, I am sorry
that I am to lose what means he was to have given
me; for it would be foolish to say that I care not for
money, and the things that money will buy, yes, for
rself and also for those about me whom I love.
Recently, I have been thinking about my changed
condition in life. Here I am, a "Mormon," harassed
and driven to and fro. A year ago I was the pampered
son and heir of the banker of Belford. Well, truly,
mother, I am not sorry. A life of slippered ease does
not tend to develop the best in a man, and I under-
stand now that my manner of life was having its effect
on me. Had I continued a few years longer, perhaps I
should not haye been able to break through the in-
closing crust. JPrue, I always had longings for some-
thing else, something indefinitely higher than the life
I was living, and that led me to much reading and some
travel. You, I am sure, had something to do with
that longing, but it was the coming of that Elder and
the Book of Mormon which was the beginning of a
new dispensation to me. Had not these come when
they did, I might now be viewing the art galleries of
Paris instead of seeing the outrages of Missouri mobo-
crats. But Truth came, beckoned, and I followed. I
passed out from the dim uncertainty of a deadly quiet
into sun and air and sometimes wind and fierce storm;
for in God's Great Open one must not expect to always
bask in sunshine and calm.
Now, mother, do not be unduly alarmed when I
tell you that I have bought me a gun and fifty rounds
JOHN ST. JOHN 51
of ammunition. I am now a warrior, both in body and
in spirit. I am going to march shoulder to shoulder
with my dear friend Henry Freland and help to defend
our God-given right to *1ife, liberty and the pursuit
of happiness," and to worship God as we please. My
grandfather fought for these rights, and why should I
be deprived of them by lawless mobs? — and think of
it, mother, mobs led by so-called Christian preachers
of the Gospel, for such is the case here. Is there a
more glorious cause for which to fight, yes, and if
need be, to die?
Brother Joseph is among us, doing his utmost.
Whatever he may think and feel, he always counsels
peace and respect for the law. Yet the country is in an
uproar, and there is a great hue and cry against the
* 'Mormons." I cannot understand it, knowing the
character of our people as I do. Of course, we are not
perfect, and there are some among us who grumble
and complain. By what I have learned lately, there
are likely, some traitors with us. Some who have left
the Church, I am sorry to say, spread all manner of
lies about the people here, and these wild tales are no
doubt beheved by our enemies and are used as justi-
fication for their acts of violence against us.
Conditions here at Far West are getting serious.
Practically, all of our people living on nearby farms or
in adjacent settlements have been driven in to this
place, until now every house contains two or more
families, and tents and wagons are pressed into service
to give some sort of shelter. The weather is cold, and
food is getting scarce. Recently, Henry and I went with
a brother back to his own farm to get a load of com.
52 JOHN ST. JOHN
It had to be done by night and by stealth for fear of
the mob. What do you think of having to ''steal"
from one's own cornfield to get bread to keep one's
family from starving?
The mails are very uncertain. One is to leave
tomorrow, and as I desire to write to Dora, I will close
this one. Will you please deliver Dora's to her as I
shall send it along with this one of yours. With kindest
regard and much love,
I am, your son,
Far West, Mo., Oct. 20, 1838.
Bear Dora: — I do not know how often you visit Mos-
ton, and how much you know of that which I have
written home, for, you see, you have not told me. I
presume, however, that you are informed somewhat
of the troublesome times we are having, so I shall not
repeat my tale of woe to you.
I am fortunate in having found some very good
friends with whom I live and who treat me as a mem-
ber of their family. Brother and Sister Freland are
from the best families in York state. Their daughter
Louise is about your age. Henry is two years older
than I. These people have suffered much for their
religion. Henry and I have been chummy ever since
I came. Never having had a brother, I cannot say
just how I would feel toward one, but I imagine, it
would be just as I feel toward Henry.
This is a wild, rough country. The Indians are
just west of us, (tell Jane ) and I fear many of the early
white settlers are among the lawless sort who are not
JOHN ST. JOHN 53
comfortable in more thickly settled communities.
There are, of course, many honest people who came
here to obtain cheap lands and make homes. Life,
you may imagine, is primitive. The log cabin floor
is either of puncheon (spht poles) or of packed earth,
and the furniture is of the crudest kind. Corn is the
principal article of food which is pounded or roughly
ground into meal. I have operated a coffee mill, my-
self, to make coarse meal for bread. There is consider-
able wild game which furnishes meat. We are a long
way from the eastern factories, so store goods are
scarce. Louise's everyday dresses are made from the
wool which Henry clipped from the sheep and which
she and her mother carded, spun, wove, cut, and sewed.
Possibly, these dresses are not up to the latest in style,
but they are very, very serviceable! Her Sunday
dress is of gingham, all the way from St. Louis, and
when she puts a faint crimp in her brown hair, and ties
it up with a red ribbon, she is not a bad looking girl.
I am writing like this of Louise because I imagine girls
are interested in such things, and, of course, I can
write to you of Louise the same as I can of Henry.
I hope you have not entirely forgotten me. I
often think of you and our two homes side by side,
bound together by a link woven by frequent passing
to and fro. Do you remember the last time we were
up in the "Nest?''. . . .1 believe the big tree sympa-
thized with me. It seemed to lean its branches ca-
ressingly toward me. I said a lot, you remember, but
you were silent. Perhaps trees can understand un-
spo^ken messages, but humans must have some sign or
token. And I did not understand you.
54 JOHN ST. JOHN
You will know by this time that I have joined the
Church of Jesus Christ, and the world may call me a
"Mormon." I hope this will make no difference in the
condition which exists between us. I presume you
were hurt by the news, but I beg of you to withhold
your judgment for a time. The Gospel and member-
ship in the Church mean so much to me; and what-
soever of good things come to me, Dora, you also must
share. I have had no other thought or purpose in this
but that you will be with me.
Do you ever wander down the path to the bridge?
Next time you do, just give our initials a little dig,
down deeper into the wood. Write me a nice, long
letter, and tell me all about yourself. With love to you
and all, I am.
Yours as ever,
JOHN ST. JOHN 55
Quincy, 111., March 2, 1839.
My Dear Mother: — Those that are left of us are rest-
ing quietly here in Quincy, 111. I am still somewhat un-
strung, and my head, at times, is in a whirl because of
the great storm of persecution from which we have
just emerged; therefore, I do not know how well I shall
tell my story of the last four months. Thank the Lord,
there are some of us left to tell the story, and to carry
on the work.
From time to time, I have sent you brief notes,
letting you know that I was still in the land of the
living. Now, it seems, that we are safe for a season,
and as I have time for writing I am impressed that I
ought to record some of my recent experiences. My
narrative may be somewhat disconnected^ but I shall
aim at the simple truth. If it shall please God to give
me posterity, I want them and their contemporaries to
know what their fathers suffered and endured in order
to lay the foundation of the great Latter-day Work.
Those of the future will read, and I hope understand
and appreciate and profit.
' Mother, is America the "land of the free and the
home of the brave?" Is Missouri a part of the United
States? Is it not all a wild dream of the night that
thousands of men, women, and children have been
dispossessed of their property, driven from their
homes in the depths of winter, and forced from the
56 JOHN ST. JOHN
state? As I look about me on my scattered people, I
realize that it is not a dream.*
I do not remember just where I left off in my last
narrative letter to you, but I believe it was before the
fight at Crooked River and the massacre at Haun's
Mill. I am not going to dwell in detail on these grue-
some events for I was not directly connected with them.
Henry and I both proffered to go with Captain Patten
and his company to defend the people at a place called
Log Creek, but we were told that we were needed at
Far West. Captain Patten met the mob on Crooked
River, and a fight ensued. The captain, who was one
of the Twelve Apostles, and a number of others were
killed, and some others were wounded.
The massacre at Haun's Mill occurred a few days
later. A mob of two hundred forty men came suddenly
on the little company camped peaceably about the mill
on Shoal Creek, six miles from Far West. I can-
not tell you what horrors were there committed, but
when it was all over and the women and children and
few men remaining crept from their hiding places,
they found that nineteen men and boys were dead or
mortally wounded, and about fifteen others were badly
Conditions were getting desperate, so we at Far
West decided to organize in self-defense. About this
time we learned that Governor Boggs had issued an
order to General Clark, authorizing him to raise two
thousand men and march against us. "The Mormons,"
the Governor declared, "must be treated as enemies,
and must be exterminated or driven from the state."
On October thirtieth, just as the sun was setting
JOHN ST. JOHN 57
at Far West, we saw a body of men approaching at a
distance. At first we thought they were some of our
own men reconnoitering, but we soon discovered that
they were the Governor's troops. They camped some
distance from the town, and that night we threw up
some breastworks of logs and earth. If we had to
fight for our fives, we would sell them as dearly as
possible. During the night, the enemy received
additional recruits of men fresh from the scenes of the
Haun's Mill massacre. Among them was one Gillium
who was called the "Delaware Chief." He was the
leader of a cut-throat band of mobocrats who decked
themselves out as Indians, and acted the part of savages
But we were destined not to fight. Colonel Hinkle,
who had charge of the Far West militia, came to the
Prophet Joseph on the afternoon of the thirty-first and
told him that the officers of the invading army wished
to have an interview with him and some others of the
brethren. Accordingly, Joseph with four others
accompanied Colonel Hinkle out some distance from
the town to where General Lucas with fifty guards
"General Lucas," said Colonel Hinkle, "these are
the prisoners I agreed to deliver to you."
Colonel Hinkle had turned traitor, and had be-
trayed the brethren into the hands of their enemies!
The prisoners were then taken to the enemy's
camp amid the most diabolical din and demonstration.
Gillium's "Indians" whooped and brandished their
weapons in true savage fashion. All that night, the
brethren lay on the wet ground in a heavy rain, having
58 JOHN ST. JOHN
to listen to the vilest language from their guards who
boasted of their devilish deeds of violence perpetrated
on "Mormon" men, women, and children.
During the night a court martial was held. The
prisoners knew nothing of this until next morning when
they were informed of the results. It was ordered that
General Doniphan should take Joseph Smith and the
other prisoners into the public square of Far West and
there shoot them, at nine o'clock in the morning. Gen-
eral Doniphan, however, refused. "It is cold blooded
murder," he declared, "I will not obey your orders."
General Doniphan's courageous stand saved the breth-
ren, for the order was not carried out.
We at Far West passed a most anxious night. We
could do nothing. The Prophet and his brethren were
in the enemy's hands, and resistance on our part would
mean death to them. We were told that if we wished
to be spared from immediate extermination, we must
give up our arms, which we reluctantly did. Immed-
iately, the mob poured into town. Under pretense of
searching for arms, they entered houses, tore up floors,
demolished furniture, upset haystacks, and carried off
whatever struck their fancy. They insulted and
abused the people. My pen halts when I attempt to
tell what unspeakable outrages were perpetrated on
some of our dear sisters!
On the morning of the third, Joseph with his fel-
low prisoners — Hyrum was now with them — were
brought into town. We hoped they would now be
released, but they were returned only that they might
bid farewell to their families. This was a most heart-
rending sight. Many of us gathered on the public
JOHN ST. JOHN 59
square to take what might be our last look at our be-
loved leaders. They were then taken away under a
strong guard, for what purpose, we knew not; only we
surmised that some opportunity might be sought for
Some of the brethren were later released and joined
us again. From them we learned that the prisoners
were taken to Independence where they were "ex-
hibited" to the curious. They were then taken to
Richmond, chained together, and thrust into a vile
prison. After a farcical trial, some were released, but
Joseph, Hyrum, and a number of others were com-
mitted for treason and sent to Liberty jail, where, as
far as we know, they are at this writing.
On November fourth. General Clark arrived at
Far West with two thousand more "soldiers." He took
a great many of the brethren prisoners. I presume that
Brother Freman was too old and feeble, and Henry
and I were not "prominent" enough to be molested.
The inhabitants of the town were placed under strict
surveillance. Most of the owners of property were
compelled to sign deeds of trust to pay the expenses
of the "war." General Clark made a speech in a public
gathering in which he advised us to scatter abroad and
never again organize with bishops, priests, etc., lest we
excite the jealousy of those who do not believe as we do!
Then he assured us that the fate of our brethren who
had been taken prisoners was fixed, and that we would
never see them again. It was the most outrageous
speech I have ever listened to. I was reminded of this
from the Fiftieth Psalm: — "Gather my saints together
unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by
60 JOHN ST. JOHN
sacrifice" — but be sure, might be added, that the place
of gathering be not anywhere in the state of Missouri!
It was evident that the whole people would again
have to leave and give up once more all their earthly
possessions. Many had farms which they had pur-
chased from the government, and were getting com-
fortable homes. Brother Freman had as yet very
little to leave. My property consisted of one horse,
one poor wagon, and a few hundred dollars in money,
which the mob did not know about — thank the Lord.
But where should we go? Further into the wilds of the
West or the North we could not move because of our
impoverished condition; Jackson County lay at the
south; so our only hope was eastward into Illinois.
The mob was verbally willing that we should re-
main until spring, but that promise was given the lie
by their brutal actions. Active preparations were,
therefore, made for as many as possible to leave. Brig-
ham Young, the President of the Twelve Apostles,
took a leading part in seeing that every member of the
Church who needed help to remove was assisted. I
obtained another horse, and by repairing the wagon,
we thought we might make the two hundred mile trip
to Illinois. Brother and Sister Freland would have to
ride most of the way, as they were feeble. After we
were meagerly fitted out, I turned over to the com-
mittee what little money I had left to assist those
poorer than we.
( It is late and I am tired. I shall finish this letter
in the morning. From the next door, I hear the strains
of a melodeon and some singing, and the music brings
me back to Moston, with you, mother, at the organ,
JOHN ST. JOHN 61
and Dora and Jane and I standing about you singing . .
In looking over what I wrote last evening, I
note that what I have put down is largely of a general
nature. Now I must tell you what has happened to me
and to my friends, the Frelands. It is a sad story, and
my heart is full as I write it.
After our removal from DeWitt, we occupied
rather poor quarters in the outskirts of Far West. In
the overcrowded condition of the town, we could not be
too particular. Provisions were getting scarce and this
also worked a hardship on those who were already weak
from exposure and privations. We all mourned our
little Marinda. Louise kept up her spirits bravely.
Henry — well, the smile seldom left his face, even in the
most distressing situations. He kept his strength and
his evenness of temper remarkably well. As for me, I
will admit, I was at times discouraged and sometimes
I grumbled. On such occasions, Henry, with a word of
encouragement or with a joke helped me out of the
Slough of Despond.
One morning — we were about ready to move —
one of the brethren came to me and asked me if I had
"Yes," I replied, "two of them, if they have not
been stolen over night."
Then the brother explained to me that some one
was wanted to do a little scout work. Suspicions were
felt about a band of mobbers encamped down near the
junction of Shoal Creek and Goose Creek. It was
feared that they were planning an attack, just
62 JOHN ST. JOHN
when and where, we ought to know, if possible. Broth-
er Rockwell, who generally did such scout work, was
away. Would I undertake such an errand? I had a
horse, I was not well known, the brethren trusted me —
there would be some danger, but —
*'ril go," I rephed. '1 want to do what I can.
As for danger, there is that everywhere just now."
The brother thanked me, gave me further instruc-
tions, and then before parting, he gave me a blessing
which thrilled my very soul.
I told the folks what I was about to do. Henry
said he envied me, but the others were perceptibly
worried. They did not object, however. I was not to
start until night, so I gave my horse a good rub-down
and a feeding of the best hay I could find. I packed a
lunch of corn bread and bacon, and at dusk I was ready.
I had no weapons. With tears in her eyes, my "Mis-
souri Mother" kissed me goodbye.
I knew the lay of the land pretty well, and avoid-
ing the public roads, I managed to cross Shoal Creek
at a private ford without being seen by any of the
mobbers who encamped along the stream. As the
night was cold and there were prospects of snow, I saw
that the men kept pretty near to their camp-fires.
Once passed the creek, I made a detour to the south
so that I might approach the camps from the direction
away from Far West. I rode up to within a quarter of
a mile, then dismounting and fastening my horse in a
clump of trees, I walked carefully to within safe dis-
tance of the camp.
I tried to get close enough to the men who were
preparing supper to overhear their talk, but I soon
JOHN ST. JOHN 63
found that if I was to get information of any value, I
would have to go right into their camp and mingle
with them. I hesitated about doing this, but at last I
asked the Lord for guidance and protection, and then
I walked boldly up to one of the groups and asked if
they could spare a hungry traveler a bite to eat.
Mother, I had to tell some lies and to swear a
little in order to convince these men that I was one of
their kind. I think, perhaps, the Lord magnified in
their ears my tame oaths and emphasized my small
untruths, for they seemed satisfied. They gave me some
supper and I sat with them about the fire, listening to
their talk. As far as I could learn, there was no design
of concerted action in force against us. They were
there to get what they could, either of land or of
property, when the "Mormons" were driven out. And
this I also learned, that at the foundation of all their
words and deeds lay a deep, insane, uncalled-for
hatred of the "Mormons."
This particular group told some bloodcurdling
tales of what they had done— some of them had
been at the Haun's Mill massacre. Three men who
posed as officers in the mob-militia boasted that
they made frequent excursions into town "after wo-
men." I managed to appear unconcerned, even mildly
interested in what they said. After supper two men
came and joined the group. They had with them a jug
of whiskey which they passed around. I went
through the motions of drinking when it came to me.
Some men from nearby groups sauntered in. They,
no doubt, had seen the whiskey jug. One of them
looked keenly at me, and then called me by name, and
64 JOHN ST. JOHN
wanted to know ''what in helF' I was doing there?
Had I quit the "Mormons" as some of the most
sensible were doing?
I could not reply on the instant. I had been dis-
covered, and how should I get out? I tried to keep my
wits, and swiftly, silently sent a petition for some
overruling providence; immediately, my prayer was
It seems that there was some bad blood between
some of the men. The whiskey had set this blood on
fire. (For once, blessed whiskey!) Angry words soon
turned to blows. The rifles were stacked, but some of
the men wore pistols, and a number of shots were
exchanged. In the excitement, I easily slipped away
from the camp, ran to my horse, unfastened him,
mounted, and rode away.
The night was now dark. The wind had risen,
and snow had begun to fall. Should I continue my
investigations? There were other groups which I
could visit. But I might be missed and a search might
be made. I concluded that there was nothing to learn
which would justify this danger, so I turned my horse
homeward, where I arrived without further adventure.
It was nearly midnight, yet Brother and Sister
Freland were up. The mother was sitting by the table,
the fear in her face being made gruesome by the flick-
ering tallow dip. The father was putting on an over-
coat, preparatory to going out. I asked what the
trouble was, and they told me this:
About two hours before, Louise had gone to the
shed, where we still kept a cow, to get some milk for a
sick child. The shed, it might be explained, was some
JOHN ST. JOHN 65
distance from the house, across a vacant lot. Yes, she
had taken the lantern with her, which, I mentally said,
would not only light her way to the shed, but also
show others to her. Henry had come home from guard
duty an hour ago. Immediately, he had gone out to
the shed, but neither of them had returned yet. The
father was preparing to go out into the stormy night
*'You stay here," said I, as I put some wood on
their dying fire. "Fll go out and find them. Don't
T led my horse to the shed, wondering what it
could mean. Everything was dark there, and quiet.
After putting up my horse, I looked about, but no
trace of the missing ones could I find. The snow-fall
had been light, and had now nearly ceased. Outside
the door which opened pasture ward, I saw footsteps
in the snow, and by close examination I found smaller
prints mingling in a confused way with those of men's.
These prints led out from the shed toward the prairie —
out, it suddenly came to me — toward the camp of the
My heart gave a great bound of fear. Had Louise
been kidnapped? And where was Henry? Should we
arouse the brethren, so that we could go in force to the
rescue? That would take time, and time was precious
in this case. Instinctively I followed the trail out on
to the prairie. I had no weapons, but I sought and
found a heavy stake. What could I do alone? I had no
idea, but I would have to try something.
For a mile or so I saw or heard nothing. Then I
was sure I saw a dark spot ahead moving across the
66 JOHN ST. JOHN
snow. I quickened my steps. To the right extended a
fence, nearly parallel to the trail. I left the trail so
that I could travel faster under the protection of the
fence. I now gained rapidly, and shortly I could see
more clearly the movements of the party ahead. I
now discovered that I was not alone in my trailing.
Another man was following the party. It must be
Henry! I watched him crouchingly steal along, taking
shelter behind every friendly tree or post. The mob-
bers evidently were not fearing immediate pursuit, or
Henry — for I was now sure it was he — would have been
I must join him before he should attempt any
rescue, but it was risky to be seen out in the open
snow-covered prairie. In time I maneuvered so that I
thought I was within speaking distance. Then I
carefully called, "Henry." He did not hear, and I
tried again. His whole attention was directed ahead.
I crept nearer, and then called again. He stopped and
listened. I crept closer, and once more spoke as loudly
as I dared, "Henry, it is John. — Wait a moment."
He recognized me, and I soon joined him as he
crouched behind a small bunch of brush. He clasped
me with strong, nervous grip and whispered,
"Thank God, you have come — They have kid-
napped Louise — How can we get her away — How can
we kill the devils before they hurt her?"
"I don't know, Henry; but we'll make a fight.
Have you any weapons?"
"Not a thing," he admitted despairingly.
I displayed my heavy stick, but he shook his head,
while I tried my best to reassure him, and at the same
JOHN ST. JOHN 67
time think out some plan of rescue. We advanced
again slowly, silently. I could feel Henry tremble as
we now faintly heard Louise's sobbing coming to us
through the night air.
"Shall we rush them?" I asked.
"No; not yet; we must abide our time and take
advantage of the best moment."
They were now nearing the creek, and getting
dangerously near their camp. Suddenly, they dis-
appeared behind a bank. We watched for a moment,
but they did not reappear. Evidently, they had gone
down into the creek bottoms. We ran forward, a
little to the left of where they had disappeared and to
the leeward of the wind. We saw them under the
bank, resting on a fallen tree. There were three of
them only. Louise was crouching in the snow by the
tree. Being well out of sight, we crept up closer so
that we could hear nearly all they said. Appar-
ently, they had no suspicions that they were being
followed, as their guns stood leaning up against a tree,
and the men were sitting on the fallen trunk. The
snow-clouds were breaking in the sky, and a half-
formed moon shone furtively down on the scene.
We learned from their talk that two of the men
could not agree on where they were to take their
"young lady." The third man seemed to have no in-
terest either in the girl or their disputes, wanting only
to get to camp as soon as possible. He did a good deal
of reckless stamping and swearing, so that much
of what the other two were saying was lost to
us. However, they seemed to have come to some
agreement, as they now arose and tried to get
68 JOHN ST. JOHN
Louise to go on with them. She refused, plead-
ing piteously for them to let her go. We were lying
fiat on the snow close to the bank, and just as the
ruffians laid their brutal hands on the girl to lift her
up, Henry jerked the stake from my hands, and with
a wild yell rushed forward, making the bank with one
leap. I followed. Henry struck fiercely but accurately
at one of the men, and he fell as though dead. The
other two, surprised for an instant, failed to reach
their weapons before we grappled with them. We
fought fiercely. My opponent cursed and swore, but
I had better use for my breath. Henry soon had his
man down, but it was not so easy for me. Back and
forth we struggled. My adversary was bigger and
stronger than I, but I had the advantage in skill. Even-
tually, I tripped him and pinioned him to the earth,
where I knew I could easily hold him.
At the moment of attack, Louise sprang up with a
cry of terror, which turned to one of joy when she saw
who had come to her rescue. She now stood looking
first at one and then at the other of us. But Henry was
not holding his own. His burly opponent managed to
fasten his fingers in Henry's throat, and would soon
have choked him to death had it not been for Louise.
She snatched up one of the guns, cocked it, and pressed
the muzzle against the mobber's head.
"Let go, or I will kill you," she said.
The villain scowled up at the girl, but did not
loosen his grip.
''Let go this instant, or I shoot!" Louise emphasized
her threat with a sharp poke of the gun against his
JOHN ST. JOHN 69
head. The man loosened his hold and soon Henry was
again master of the situation.
But what now could we do? The third man whom
Henry had felled now groaned and moved, but he soon
lay still again. Although these men would have killed
us if they could, we did not want to kill them. We
wanted to get away. If these men were secured for a
few minutes, we could get out of their reach. At this
thought, I told Louise to get a knife out of my coat
pocket, and cut some broad strips from her skirt. I
knew the cloth in it was strong for she had made it her-
self. She did not hesitate to do this, and in a few
moments, with her help, I had my man's hands se-
curely tied. It was now an easy task to tie Henry's
opponent in the same way.
Just as Henry staggered to his feet, I saw the man
whom we thought was still insensible, rise to a kneeling
position, aim and fire a revolver at Henry. With a cry,
Henry reeled, and would have fallen had Louise and I
not both reached him.
"I am shot," he moaned.
Just then we heard voices some distance away.
We could not know whether friend or foe was coming,
but we would take no risks, so we hurried away as fast
as we could with Henry between us. He urged us to
hasten, saying that his wound would not amount to
much, and we must get out of reach of the mobbers.
We soon learned, however, that Henry was seriously
hurt. For a matter of ten minutes or so, he managed
to walk along between us, but then he sagged down.
"You two go on,'* he whispered. "YouM better —
let me — lie here.*'
70 JOHN ST. JOHN
We managed to reach the shelter of some bushes.
I hastily made a brush bed for Henry to lie on to keep
him from close contact with the snow. We heard the
approaching party find their bandaged friends, but
evidently, they did not think it worth while trying to
find us, for they soon left.
I Henry grew weaker. We opened his clothing and
found a big, ugly wound in his side. Louise and I
looked at each other in dismay. What could we do?
Should I run for help? But I could not leave them;
and Henry was sinking. All we could do — his sister
and I — was to pray for him. He lay with his head on
Louise's lap, with his pale, beautiful face upturned to
the moon-bathed blue heaven. In ten minutes he died!
Dear, dear, Henry, my friend, my brother — but I can
write no more about him — only that I covered him
lightly with some willow brush. He would have to
rest alone until morning, — which was not far away —
until I could bring some help.
Then I took Louise by the hand and we started
homeward. The lights twinkling in the town directed
us. Silently we trudged along. I was tired, but the
poor girl was weary nearly to exhaustion. I wondered
at her strength of mind and body. As we neared Far
West, we saw a dull, red flare shoot into the graying
sky. A house was burning! As we went on, we found
that the flames were in the direction of our own dwell-
ing. This quickened our dragging steps, and sure
enough, when we were near the town, we saw that our
humble abode was in flames. Mobbers had fired it,
and then ridden off. When we arrived, Brother and
JOHN ST. JOHN 71
Sister Freland were standing bareheaded, looking in a
dazed way at the burning home!
Our household possessions were meagre enough,
but they were all destroyed. Kind friends provided
for Louise and her parents. I directed a party
to where Henry's body lay, and we brought it to town.
He was buried at Far West. Many of the leading
brethren attended the funeral services, and spoke
highly of him.
About a week after this night of terror and sorrow,
we left Far West. We gave up the idea of traveling all
the way by wagon, so we boarded a steamer on the
Missouri river at the nearest landing, went down that
stream to the Mississippi, then up the river to this place.
And so, here we are, as I said in the beginning, what is
left of us.
It is now past noon — I have been writing a long
time. Sister Freland has just come in to tell me that
they are waiting for me at the table. She asked me to
whom I was writing such a long letter, and when I told
her, she said:
"Give my love to her."
I gladly do, dear mother.
Your loving son,
72 JOHN ST. JOHN
Nauvoo, 111., June 29, 1839.
My Dear Dora: — Your brief note inclosed in moth-
er's latest letter has been read and reread in hopes that I
might get from it a little more assurance that you still
think me worthy of your love. I sometimes fear you
misjudge — I am sure that you do not fully under-
stand. My dear, let me repeat: My joining the Latter-
day Saints has not lessened my love for you; on the
contrary, the new light and the added hopes which have
come to me have deepened that love until it has be-
come a most holy thing. Will you just wait — be patient
with me — let me prove myself.
Gladly would I have returned home after our
exodus from Missouri; but as you may know, father
does not want to see me, so I thought it best for me to
remain away. I hope you will believe me when I say
that I long for a look at you all, and to hear your voices,
and become a part of the dear home scenes. Perhaps,
if I were nearer you, I could keep your heart right —
in my direction.
I am writing this letter from the window of my
new home; for you must know that I am building a
house: I must have some place to keep my guests when
they come from Moston and "the neighborhood."
(When you come, bring a root of the climbing rose bush
from the west wall of your home). My writing table
is a smooth board, resting on the window sill. My pen
and ink, as you see, are not of the best; but I still have
JOHN ST. JOHN 73
some of the paper you gave me. There was a stack of
it, you remember.
If you want to know where I am located, let me
tell you how you can learn. Get out your map of
the United States. Find the southern boundary of
Iowa, and trace it eastward straight across the little
jog in the comer until you reach the Mississippi river.
A little south of this point you will see a bend in the
river. Within the bend on the Illinois side lies the site
for the future city of Nauvoo. The big river sweeps
around us on three sides. The ground slopes gradu-
ally up to the level of the prairie extending eastward.
I am building my house on the gentle south slope.
As I write, I can look out on our city in its first stages
of building. We are as yet in the midst of a wilderness,
with just a few houses going up here and there. It is
evening, and the sound of saw and hammer has ceased.
Not far away, straight ahead, the Father of Waters
sweeps majestically by. Nearly amidstream is a wood-
clad island, and beyoad that on the Iowa side is the new
town of Montrose. The island attracts me. I would
like to live on it — have it for my very own, like another
Robinson Crusoe; only, of course, I wouldn't want to
be too literal about the Crusoe business, as I would want
a Mrs. Crusoe to share with me the charming exclusive-
ness of the island!
The air is delightful this evening. The sky has
been clear all day. Now the shadows are long and
deepening. West of me there is a small grove of trees,
which, because of its standing in a future street, must
be cut down. (I wish I could transplant some of them
to my lot near the house. ) The river is now a stream
74 JOHN ST. JOHN
of dull, gray metallic substance, and as I gaze upon it,
my mind's eye lifts beyond the river across the land to
Moston and the stream and the bridge — and on the
rustic seat which I made, there sits a girl. It is mid-
summer. Her white dress is trimmed with blue. The
gallant Sun, loath to depart, leaves what he can of his
choicest gifts with her; and for this reason, the warm
sunlight shines from her face, glows in deep color in her
lips, tinges her cheeks rosy-red, and lurks in the big,
soft coils of her hair. Ah, dear me, how envious I am
of you, Mr. Sun!
Do you think, my dear, that all this is only a case
of distance lending enchantment? Many a time at
home have I thus thought of you, thus seen you, even
though I may not have expressed it. Never has there
been any other girl just like you: you stand out sharply
from the great mass, and I have seen many people in
my time. Never have I seriously doubted that you and
I were meant for each other. Even now I do not doubt,
— I am merely a bit afraid!
Do you think it strange that I should become a
carpenter? You see, we must learn to do many kinds
of work here. I laid most of the stones in the founda-
tion of my house, likewise did most of the woodwork
and the painting. So, you see, this house is strictly
'*home made." My hands are rougher than they ever
have been, and my clothes smell of paint. And that
reminds me of an incident.
The other day Elder Brigham Young — he is
president of the Twelve Apostles — came by my house
while I was painting. He saw at a glance that I was a
novice, and he very kindly gave me some suggestions,
JOHN ST. JOHN 75
even taking the brush from my hands and showing me
how. He is a painter and glazier by trade, and yet he
is one of our leading men and best preachers. Now,
this may appear strange to you, who, all your life,
have thought of ministers of the gospel as being men
apart from common workmen. However, I read, —
and so may you — that Peter was a fisherman and Paul
was a tentmaker. So, you see, the latter-day apostles
are, in this respect, very much like the former-day
disciples of the Lord.
The light is growing less, and I am tired. Write to
me again, this time, a long, sweet letter, full of that
sunshine with which you yourself are charged. Give
my love to your mother and to Jane. Tell my friends,
if I still have any, that I often think kindly of them;
and finally believe me to be
Yours as ever,
Nauvoo, 111., July 5, 1839.
My Dear Father: — I hear of you regularly through
mother, even though you yourself do not write, and I
want to tell you that I think of you often — think of you
as the kind father you have been to me ever since
childhood. I grieve that I have caused you sorrow
recently, and that I have so disappointed you.
If I never see you again, or if I am never to reach
you by spoken word, I want to tell you this: What I
have done in joining the ''Mormons" has been actuated
by the sincerest motives. It has not been dictated by a
spirit of adventure. In casting my lot with this "pecul-
iar people," I have not depended on the testimony of
76 JOHN ST. JOHN
others, but I have sought out the truth myself and have
tried to follow the light as it has been given to me. You
may think me fanatical when I say that I have a tes-
timony that God lives and that He has raised up a
prophet who speaks with as much power and authority
as any ancient prophet ever did. I see that prophet
nearly every day; I hear his voice; I feel the sweet
influence of his presence; my soul is nourished by his
Yes, all this in the midst of poverty and trial. Yet
I know that we are at the beginning of great things, and
it gives me courage when I think that I may be a hum-
ble instrument in helping to lay the foundation of a
great structure. Either this city, or some other, is
destined to be great in the elements of true greatness
which lie in the hearts of the people rather than in
When I look back to my childhood days and try to
recall my religious impressions, I find much vagueness:
God was a something which no one could conceive of,
let alone describe; angels were beings with wings and
harps and crowns; heaven was a place where all the
converted went; hell was a place of never-ending tor-
ment. I used to be an inquisitive boy, and many a
minister I have annoyed by questions which he could
not answer. I remember a revival where a number
of my acquaintances "got religion." I asked some of
them how they got "it," but they could not explain.
Everything about it was so hazy, principally a matter
of the emotions, I suppose.
I do not pretend to know much yet about the
great world of truth, but I am sure I am at the thresh-
John st. John 77
old, and am in the right way to learn. Ever since I
was old enough, 1 have thought one should have some
philosophy of life. Before I met the Latter-day Saints,
I rarely found anyone who could satisfy my queries of
why and whence. All life about me was largely chart-
less and rudderless. My own life was, I am sure, much
like a fallow field which, I fear, in time would have been
choked with useless weeds. Now, I am equally sure,
if I do my duty, even though my life may lead through
struggle and trial, some day there will come a fruitful
But I do not want to preach — only I wanted to
express my inmost heart to you. I hope you will never
cease thinking of me as a son, even as I shall ever hold
you as a father. Some day, as sure as God is in Heaven,
all will be well — if we live up to the light which comes
I believe, father, that this town would be a good
place in which to begin business. Nauvoo is a coming
city, and a bank would do well here — not just yet, but
after a time. Think about it.
I am sincerely your son,
78 JOHN ST. JOHN
Nauvoo, 111., Aug. 30, 1839.
Dear Mother: — I was not satisfied with my brief
letter to you last month, so I shall try to make amends.
Lately I have been thinking of our recent expe-
riences in Missouri; and I must acknowledge that I
cannot quite understand why we should be driven from
a land which the Lord has pointed out to be the gather-
ing place of His people. Perhaps we are not good
enough yet. The Savior likened the kingdom of God
unto a net cast into the sea, and wherein all kinds of
fish were caught. Well, we have all kinds of people
with us, the trials of Missouri having revealed their
true nature. I fear that the unwisdom of some and the
wickedness of others have been, largely, the cause of
our suffering. However, back of this exhibition of
human weakness shines the everlasting light of God's
truth, and that assurance gives me comfort and hope.
I am now quite alone. The Frelands have moved
a short distance up the river. Though old and ill.
Brother and Sister Freland were determined to try
beginning again in a small way for themselves. Louise
keeps well and strong and is a great help to her parents.
When we first came here in the spring, the place
was very unhealthful. The small village of Commerce
lay near the river in the malarial lowlands. As there
were but few houses, many lived in their wagons, in
tents, and others camped in the open air. Our people,
weakened by the Missouri drivings, had not the vital-
JOHN ST. JOHN 79
ity to resist disease, so, many of them became ill. Broth-
er Joseph had given up his simple house to the sick and
he lived in a tent. No doubt, all this suffering of his
people moved the Prophet greatly. On the morning
of July 22 he arose, and with the power of God resting
upon him, he began to heal the sick. First, he ad-
ministered to those in his own house and dooryard,
passing along to all within reach. Then, with a num-
ber of the Twelve, he crossed the river to Montrose
and healed the sick there. Some of those who were
healed — notably a Brother Fordham — were at the
point of death. It was a very remarkable demonstra-
tion of God's power, and it has taught us clearly that
the promised signs follow the believer in our day as
well as formerly.
Since the Prophet has returned to us, he is again
the center of our life and activity. We are all very
busy building up our new city, and bringing the ad-
jacent country under cultivation. Since I left your
sheltering roof, dear mother, what a variety of work I
have done! Just now I have obtained a small farm
eastward from the city, but I doubt whether I shall
ever be a successful farmer. When it comes to manual
labor, I think I am apter with tools. A brother ac-
quaintance is planning to go into merchandising here,
and he wants me to join him. Perhaps that will be
more in my line.
Now I must tell you of a visit paid me by Brother
Joseph, as we frequently call the Prophet. I was sit-
ting by my open window after a hard day's work. (I
had been helping a brother raise the walls of his
house. ) I was tired, and did not care even to read my
80 JOHN ST. JOHN
book. There had been Hght showers during the after-
noon and a warm, honeyed perfume stole through my
window. Joseph and Hyrum came down the street.
Seeing me, they stopped. Hyrum went on, and Joseph
came to where I was sitting. I placed him a chair, and
he drew it close to mine, indicating that he wanted to
be companionable. Joseph's smile seems to come un-
consciously as if reflecting his beautiful soul. Al-
though I felt rather than knew I was in the presence
of a great man, yet I was not ill at ease. There is that
about the Prophet which draws like the warmth of the
sun. He is very simple and natural in manner and ad-
dress, and yet there lies deeply in those blue eyes of his
the wisdom of worlds!
When I told him my name, he said he remembered
me from Far West. He wanted to know how I had
fared since then and I rehearsed to him my story.
When I spoke of the death of my friend Henry Fre-
land, there were tears of sympathy in his eyes.
Then he began to talk. I have told you how he
can hold an audience, and now the same wonderfully
sweet, magnetic voice was giving utterance to divine
truths in my lone presence. He told me of his vision,
while yet a boy, of the Father and the Son, and of the
coming forth of the Book of Mormon. He did not dwell
long on the unpleasant history of his sufferings in
Missouri prisons, but he entered into an exposition of
the gospel. He took me back to a pre-mortal existence,
and pointed out to me the glories of worlds to come.
It was wonderful. My heart truly burned within me as
he talked. I cannot repeat to you all he said, for some
of it is not to be revealed as yet to the world. He left
JOHN ST. JOHN 81
me with a blessing which lingered as a benign influence
for hours as I sat there alone with the open heavens
before my eyes.
Mother, many a dream have I had in the past, even
as a boy,— day dreams they were, — visions which I
could not mentally grasp even to the extent of talking
about them. I think now that they were glimpses
through a partly opened door into Glory-land. Joseph
opened widely that door, and my soul feasted.
That night I dreamed again. I do not know
whether I was asleep or not. I saw a beautiful Temple
stand on the highest point of land not far from my
humble home; and I heard the singing of angels, and
I saw white-robed men and women in that Temple
on the hill.
And now, dear mother, there is a bit of news for
you. The other day a message came to me that I was
wanted to go and preach the gospel. Would I, could
I go? I answered, yes, with a quaking heart. What
else could I say? So I am called on a mission, and will
start within a week. I am to go up into Michigan and
perhaps to Canada. A family, just arrived from the
East, will finish, then occupy my house. They wanted
to buy it, but I do not wish to sell. In the building of
this little home, I have had fond anticipations which I
want to see realized. This may be the last letter I may
write from Nauvoo before I leave, but I shall try to
let you know from time to time of my doings.
I note in your letter how father received my com-
munication to him, and how he handed it to you. I
hope some good will come of it. Remember me kindly
82 JOHN ST. JOHN
to him,— and the others. God bless you. Do not
forget me in your prayers. I shall need them more
than ever, for I shall need all the strength I can
muster for this mission.
Sincerely your son,
JOHN ST. JOHN SS
Nauvoo, 111., Nov. 1, 1842.
My Dear Mother: — ^As you see, I am back in Nau-
voo again. I arrived here some time ago, but I have
been too ill to write before. I am better now, and so I
shall try to make up to you for lost time.
You will remember that in my last note I sent you
from Canada, I said that the climate did not agree with
me, but thought that when I got back to Nauvoo, 1
would soon be well; it has taken me three months
to get out and around again, — three of the longest
months I have ever experienced. Brother and Sister
Freland, with others, have again been very kind to me,
and nursed me in my sickness.
As you know, dear mother, I have always enjoyed
good health, and so this also was an experience. My
Heavenly Father has surely taken me in hand.
Through all my afflictions, His Spirit has been my con-
stant companion. I suppose it has been for a wise
purpose that at this stage of my life I should learn what
physical pain and suffering is; and so, I am ready to
acknowledge the hand of the Lord both in my sickness
and my restoration. Suffering seems to touch certain
deeply hidden springs of the soul, (You, dear mother,
know) springs which otherwise never would have been
reached. I hope I shall be better, wiser, kinder, braver,
and more faithful now than ever before.
I am not now going to enter into a detailed account
of my missionary experiences or add to the brief let-
84 JOHN ST. JOHN
ters I sent you from time to time from the mission
field and when otherwise engaged away from that work.
(I want to reserve that telhng until I can sit near
you and look into your dear face.) However, this I
must say, that my experiences in the field have been
wonderful. I never fully realized before what joy there
is in bringing the truth to others. ''Man is that he
might have joy," and now I know that the greatest joy
comes from unselfish service.
Our city has made a wonderful growth since I have
been away. I hardly recognized the place again. Peo-
ple are thronging in, and a wave of prosperity seems to
be sweeping toward us. Many people are coming from
England, and work of various kinds must be provided
for them. This makes our city a hive of industry, the
Prophet, as always, being the center of activity. New
stakes are being organized in the region around about.
My little place has been well taken care of and the
farm land is under cultivation. My tenants are now
about ready to move into a home of their own, so I
shall soon take possession again of my little abode.
There are some repairs to make and some improvements
which I have in mind, but these will have to wait.
Louise is to be married next week. I am glad that
she is getting a good young man, by name, William
Have I ever told you that we are building a temple?
At the April conference of last year, the corner stones
were laid with impressive ceremonies, and witnessed
by a large concourse of people. It is being built on the
elevated ground a few blocks up from my house. (I
saw it in vision before I went on my mission). The
JOHN ST. JOHN 85
Prophet has been telling us that it is necessary to iDuild
a temple wherein there shall be a font in which to per-
form baptisms for the dead. This is new doctrine to
the modern world; but it is a beautiful idea, is it not,
that all those who have not heard and obeyed the gospel
in this life may hear and receive it in the next, and that
we who are living may be baptized for those who are
dead. At the last October conference, Joseph spoke
very emphatically on this subject. Some baptisms for
the dead had been performed in the Mississippi river;
but now, the Prophet declared, there should be no
more such baptisms until they could be performed in a
font in the Lord's House. Those who attend to this
ordinance become saviors on Mount Zion. Jesus,
while His body lay in the tomb, was a ministering
Spirit to the spirits in prison. "There is never a time,"
said Joseph, "when the spirit is too old to approach
God." (When I heard this, I thought of the eternal-
hell-fire sermons which Parson Tomkins used to preach. )
Joseph enlarged on this theme, and said that those who
neglect this work for their dead relatives, do it at the
peril of their own salvation. (Father's genealogy,
running as it does into the English nobility, is well
kept. What about yours? )
I am sending you the Times and Seasons as it
comes from the press so that you can see more fully
than I can write what is being done and taught among
us. I call your special attention to the translations
which the Prophet has published, called the Book of
Abraham, Is it not a marvel that Abraham should
know more about the stars, planets, and worlds in
general than the wisest of present-day astronomers!
86 JOHN ST. JOHN
The Prophet is a very busy man. (You note,
mother, that I cannot get away from his sayings and
doings; but you will understand the reason for this.)
Besides preaching, baptizing, and counseling, he takes
an active part in the temporal welfare of the city. All
this work is done under heavy handicap. Much of the
time this summer and fall Joseph has had to remain in
hiding in order to keep out of the way of his enemies.
Last May, ex-Governor Boggs of Missouri was shot and
severely wounded. Although Joseph was in IlHnois
at the time, he was accused of the deed, and the officers
tried to have him brought to Missouri to stand trial.
But Joseph would not go to Missouri to be butchered,
and we are glad of it.
Now I come to a personal matter. Mother, I want
to see you; and as I cannot go to Moston for that pur-
pose, will you not come to Nauvoo? The journey need
not now be hard, as most of it can be made by boat
on the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers. I can make you
quite comfortable now. And mother — happy thought
— get Dora to come with you. The trip would do her
good. If Dora would come and see and listen for her-
self, she might be impressed. Of course, I would not
want you to do this without father's full consent. Think
and pray about it. The first I have done, the second
I shall do.
With greetings and love,
JOHN ST. JOHN 87
Moston, Nov. 1, 1842.
Mr. John St. John,
Your father died yesterday evening at 7:30. He
had been ill but a week, and we did not think it was
serious. I can't write very much now, but will try
again later. I think there is no need of your com-
ing home, as all his affairs are in the hands of his
lawyers. They called today and said they would take
care of everything. At least, wait until you hear from
me again before you think of coming.
Your loving mother,
REBECCA ST. JOHN.
Moston, Nov. 7, 1842.
My Dear John: — Sweet, womanly little Jane Fen-
ton is here with me — right here with me in the room while
I write this letter. She is not only my "body guard,"
she says, but my "mind mentor" also. She has visited
with me a good deal during the past year, and she has
been with me all the time since your father died. Mrs.
Fenton has kindly "loaned" her to me. I don't know
what 1 would do ^^athout her. She helps me very much
to keep my mind off my sorrows.
Now that I have introduced this letter by a pleas-
ant bit, I must tell you some things which are not so
88 JOHN ST. JOHN
agreeable. Lately, as you know, I have not been send-
ing you much money, because I have not had it. The
fact is that your father was hard hit in the panic which
swept over the country a year or so ago, and he has
been barely able to struggle along. This, no doubt,
was one cause of his death. The lawyers have been
working with his books and his affairs for some days,
and today they informed me that the bank and all its
interests go out of our hands. Moston is all that is
left me. I am glad to say that to the last your father
was strictly honest in all his business transactions, and
so he made it possible that when we laid him away in
our private graveplot at Moston, though he left no
wealth, he owed no man anything. I only wish he had
also been a little more proudly exact with himself and
his soul's salvation.
Since you left home, your father hardly ever spoke
of you; and I fear that even if he had left a fortune,
none of it would have gone to you. During the last
few days of his life, when he was lying still and speech-
less, slipping quietly away, his eyes would frequently
open and fix on your picture which stands on the bureau.
One day, when I was out of the room, he motioned for
Jane to bring the picture closer to him. And so, from
little things like that, I am satisfied that his heart was
softened towards you at the last.
I am sure now that you need not come home.
Instead, I am coming to you! I have about decided
that to be the best I can do. Your life — heart and soul,
is with your people, — as it should be. I glory in your
steadfastness to the truth. My prayers have always
been that the Lord would grant you success in what you
JOHN ST. JOHN 89
have set out to accomplish, — preserve you from falHng
back into a Hstless world. As you well know, my heart
is also with the restored gospel. I know that it is the
truth. I am coming to Nauvoo, and if the Lord will be
so gracious to me, I am going to be baptized by the
But I shall have to content myself to wait until
spring. Have your little home ready for me. We
two, if no more, shall live there in peace with the
saints of God. I shall sell Moston, and with the pro-
ceeds you may get a start in business in Nauvoo, if you
think that is to your liking. You see, my dear boy, I
have made beautiful plans, and I am going to try to
turn the Lord's trials into the Lord's blessings.
But what about Dora? asks your questioning
heart when you read this. I have said nothing about
her in my plans. Well, I do not know what to say.
She is a puzzle. Sometimes I think she loves you very
much. Beautiful she is as ever, and good, too, and ten-
der of heart; but she appears incased in a hard, worldly
shell which, I fear, cannot be broken by gentle means.
For her sake and for your sake, I hope the Lord will
take her in hand.
Mrs. Fenton and the girls have been a great comfort
to me. Mrs. Fenton's knowledge of business has as-
sisted me in some things which I fear I could not have
accomplished alone. They want me to close up Mos-
ton and come and live with them, but this I cannot do.
Mrs. Fenton has kindly permitted Jane to remain with
me as long as I desire, which Jane says shall be "for-
ever and ever," — bless her heart.
Moston is lying peacefully under its first cover of
90 JOHN ST. JOHN
snow which came last night, so Jane and I shall house
up to day. We make good use of our indoor times.
Jane is a good reader, and she takes delight in reading
the Book of Mormon aloud to me. The other day,
when our hearts were very sad, Jane opened the book
to III Nephi, chapter eleven, and read the beautiful
account of Christ's appearance to the people on this
continent. How very sweet that story is! There were
tears in our eyes.
"I never dreamed that such wonderful things
could be true,'' said Jane. "Think of it — the Lord
coming right down from heaven to the people, speaking
gently to them, and inviting them to come and feel of
the nail prints in His hands and feet, so they might
know for sure that He was the Jesus who was cruci-
fied. I wish I had been there."
"Yes," I said, "it was indeed wonderful. Many a
time, as a child reading about the Savior, I wished I
had lived in the days of Jesus and the apostles; but we
must not forget," I reminded her as I looked into her
shining eyes, "that the Lord has visited the earth in
our day, and that right now. He has a prophet who can
speak in His name."
"And John has seen and heard that prophet,"
added Jane, with implicit trust in the truth of her
"Yes, dear; and so I hope shall — " I was going to
say "I" but "we" came instead. I hope it was said
with a spirit of prophecy: for John, I have this plan
which I might as well reveal to you now:
I do not want to travel alone to Nauvoo; I shall
want Jane to go with me; then Mrs. Fenton will want
JOHN ST. JOHN 91
Dora to go along to look after her younger sister; I shall
be Dora's chaperon; so, you see, the arrangement will
be complete. Am I not a schemer? Do you think you
can take care of such a lot of visitors?
Later. — Dora came to supper, and has spent the
evening with us. She is very thoughtful about calling
to see us. She told us all the latest news from Belford,
— about which I do not care, — and then when she
learned that I was writing to you, she said: "Give him
my love — and, mother,'' — she calls me mother when
she is in her sweetest mood as she was this evening, —
"tell him that we are all coming to see him and his won-
derful city in the spring."
I looked at her in astonishment. I had never
spoken to her about such a journey, yet the idea was
already in her head.
"All right, I'll tell him," I replied; "but when it is
said, you must keep your word."
She put her arms about me and smiled into my
"Mother," she protested, "I may be a foolish
girl in many ways, but I always keep my word, do I
And I had to admit that she does. And so, you
see, things are coming your — ^yes, our way.
Dora has gone now, and Jane says it is time for
me to go to bed. She is right, for I am tired, so good
night to you from your loving
92 JOHN ST. JOHN
John St. John received the definite word early in
the spring of 1843 that his mother, Dora, and Jane
were coming to Nauvoo. He read and reread the brief
letter of announcement which was signed formally by
the three, and a wave of joy surged through his heart.
Yes, the Lord was good.
John had built two more rooms on his house,
which brought the number up to five. With the ex-
pectancy of his loved one's coming always before him,
he had finished and furnished his rooms as well as the
times and his means would permit.
Before and after his working hours at the store
where he was employed he busied himself within and
without his home. Early that spring he laid out walks,
sowed lawns, and fashioned here and there some
flower beds, which he planted with what hardy seeds
he could obtain. His front yard lay toward the south
and the river, and by the side of the house, where the
view of the water was clear, he built a rustic seat,
above which on three sides extended a trellis on
which the ivy was to climb. In his lot at the back of the
house John planted some grape vines, apples trees,
and peach trees, and his vegetable garden was among
the best in Nauvoo.
In all this activity John realized the joy of work.
He often thought of the past and what might have
been, but he had now no vain regrets. Had he not
joined the "Mormons" and had he remained at home,
JOHN ST. JOHN 93
his father would have built for him and for Dora a
much finer house, and he would not have needed to
soil a finger over its building. But what he would have
missed! Surel3^ there is no joy that can take the place
of this simple home-building when most of the work is
done by those who shall dwell therein!
And John St. John's home was only one of many
which were being made in Nauvoo. On every hand,
the city was growing like magic. Houses were springing
up, gardens and fields took the place of wilderness and
prairie. Skilled workmen came from the East and from
England, for whom workshops and factories were
erected. Addition after addition was platted and made
a part of the city, until soon its limits reached three or
four miles up and down the river and the same dis-
tance eastward on to the prairie. Nauvoo's fifteen
thousand inhabitants, living contentedly within the
half encircling arms of the Father of Waters, occupied
the finest site in the state for a big city. Chicago,
across the state on Lake Michigan, was as yet a
Mrs. St. John and the girls arrived at Nauvoo
early in June. Of course, the boat from St. Louis was
late that day. John knew it would not arrive until
noon, but he began watching for it hours before.
Sister Freman had come to help him keep house and
prepare a welcome for this guests. For a long time,
these two watched and waited. Then at last, well
towards evening, when they saw the smoke of the
steamer down the river, John hurriedly put in readi-
ness the carriage and the wagon for the trunks. When
94 JOHN ST. JOHN
the steamer paddled slowly up to the landing, he was
Quite a company of Saints was on board, and so
John and his small party were not conspicuous in the
general bustle of embarking. The driver of the wagon
was given instructions regarding boxes and trunks, and
then the mother and the girls were helped into the
carriage. As the distance to the house was not far.
Sister Freman soon welcomed them from the doorway,
bidding John to hurry them in to the delayed dinner.
That young man soon helped his passengers to alight;
and as he swung Jane, the last of them, to the ground, he
"Why, Jane, you're as heavy as your sister.*'
"I ought to be,'' she replied, "I am as big."
Sister Freman now took the arrivals in charge,
while John went out to dispose of his team. This done,
he came back, but lingered on the outside as if
timid about going in. But that was not wholly
the reason. He wanted the joy of this occasion
to come to him dignified, unhurried. He wanted to
control any indiscreet rush of feeling. It takes time for
happiness to sink deeply into the heart His
mother had aged since he had last seen her, but the
same sweet face had pressed his during their greeting
in the same peculiar way she had always had ever since
he could remember. Dora was older, too, graver,
yet more beautiful. And Jane — how she had grown!
She was nearly a young lady herself.
The trunks now came, and John helped to un-
load them. Dora asked to have hers placed in her room,
as she needed some "things" contained therein. When
JOHN ST. JOHN 95
all were ready for dinner, Mrs. St. John and Jane had
only "washed up a bit/' but Dora had changed her
traveling dress for a beautiful white gown, trimmed
with blue. At sight of it, John's eyes opened wide and
his heart leaped: she looked so much like the dream-
picture of her which he had carried in his heart for so
Lamps were lighted and blinds were drawn before
they sat down to the table. John declared he was not
very hungry, so he claimed the privilege of seeing that
all the others were helped, even protesting Sister
At first, there was very little said by those about
the table: deep joy need not be expressed in words.
All in their own way were drinking thankfully of the
spirit of gladness which was present. The mother's
eyes were on her son. He had left her a boy; he was
now a man, bigger, broader of shoulder, a little changed
in face; wiser, no doubt, in the wisdom of God as well
as of man. No wonder that Dora's glances turned
repeatedly toward him, and that Jane openly told him
how handsome he had become.
As Jane's hunger became somewhat appeased, her
tongue found ready words. She answered John's
questions about Moston, and went into details regard-
ing the journey which to her had been delightful. At
the close of the meal, John suggested that the weary
travelers might want to retire early.
"I'm not a bit tired, now, after that good dinner,"
said Jane. "I want to see the Prophet."
"Jane," admonished Dora. "Don't be so foolish."
96 JOHN ST. JOHN
John laughed. ''In good time, Jane, you shall
'Tomorrow?" she asked.
"I can't say as to that. He's not always at home.
Tomorrow we'll take a ride about the city, and then
Sunday we'll go to meeting. Very likely the Prophet
will speak, and then you'll both see and hear him."
The next day was clear and beautiful. When
Jane Q,ot up, followed by Mrs. St. John and Dora, John
had already gone to the store to do a little work and to
get excused for the day. Jane soon explored the garden,
and looked critically at John's attempt at beautifying
the grounds. When she discovered the rustic seat,
now partly hidden by the ivy, she called for her sister
to come and see. The two seated themselves and looked
toward the town and the smoothly flowing river.
The mother quietly looked about the house which
was now to be her home; for she had sold Moston, and
had left it and all else which had bound her to her old
world and its life. She had now cast her lot definitely
with her son and his people, who shortly would also be
During the day, John showed them the points of
interest in the new city. The temple, its gray lime-
stone walls now about twenty feet high, crowned the
highest point in the center of the city. John called his
visitors' attention to the signs of growth and prosperity
everywhere, and explained that this had been accom-
plished within the short space of three or four years.
That first Sunday (which was June 11) John and
his company went to meeting in the Temple. To those
who had been used to worship in the small, cushioned-
JOHN ST. JOHN 9?
pewed church at Belford, this big, open-aired congre-
gation gathering within those unfinished walls, was
new and strange. The floor was made of unplaned
boards. The seats were of unpainted lumber. Above
the rough masonry of partly completed walls extended
the open blue of heaven.
Great crowds came and seated themselves in
order. The leading elders of the Church took their
places on the stand, among them Joseph Smith, the
Prophet. At the appointed time there was singing,
then prayer, and singing again, after which the Prophet
arose to speak.
"I am a rough stone," he said. "The sound of the
hammer and chisel was never heard on me until the
Lord took me in hand. I desire the learning and wis-
dom of heaven alone. I have not the least idea, if
Christ should come to the earth and preach such rough
things as He preached to the Jews, but that this gen-
eration would reject Him for being so rough."
John looked at Dora. He did want her to get a
favorable impression, and he was a little fearful. Jos-
eph's manner of speech was frequently blunt. It
lacked the fine polish of the educated preacher of the
world with his *'firstly's" and his "finally's" and his
ministerial intonations. Sometimes Joseph was
"rough" as he had indicated, and sometimes people
were offended. John hoped Dora would not be
Joseph continued: "The main object (for the
gathering of the Jews) was to build unto the liOrd a
house whereby He could reveal unto His people the
ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom,
98 ' JOHN ST. JOHN
and teach the people the way of salvation; for there are
certain ordinances and principles that, when they are
taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house
built for that purpose." ....
"It is for the same purpose that God gathers to-
gether His people in the last days, to build unto the
Lord a house to prepare them for the ordinances and
endowments, etc. One of the ordinances of the house of
the Lord is baptism for the dead. God decreed before
the foundation of the world that the ordinance should
be administered in a font prepared for that purpose
in the house of the Lord."
"Many men will say, *I will never forsake you,
but I will stand by you at all times.' But the moment
you teach them some of the mysteries of the kingdom
of God that are retained in the heavens and are to be
revealed to the children of men when they are prepared
for them, they will be the first to stone you and put
you to death. It was this same principle that crucified
the Lord Jesus Christ, and will cause the people to kill
the prophets in this generation."
"The righteous and the wicked all go to the same
world of spirits until the resurrection The
great misery of departed spirits in the world of spirits,
where they go after death, is to know that they come
short of the glory that others enjoy and that they
might have enjoyed themselves, and they are their
"Gods have an ascendency over the angels who are
ministering servants. In the resurrection, some are
raised to be angels; others are raised to become Gods."
"These things are revealed in the most holy place
JOHN ST. JOHN 99
in a Temple prepared for that purpose. Many of the
sects cry out, 'Oh, I have the testimony of Jesus; I have
the Spirit of God; but away with Joe Smith; he says he
is a prophet; but there are to be no prophets or revela-
tors in the last days!' Stop, sir! The Revelator says that
the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy; so by
your own mouth you are condemned. But to the text.
Why gather the people together in this place? For the
same purpose that Jesus wanted to gather the Jews —
to receive the ordinances, the blessings, and glories
that God has in store for His Saints."
At the close of the meeting John walked homeward
with Dora, hoping that she would make some comment
on what she had seen and heard; but she was silent.
Mrs. St. John also was quiet, as if what she had heard
was more suited for contemplation than for expression.
But Jane could not keep still, and Mrs. Freland, at
least, was a wiUing listener.
"And what do you think of the Prophet?" asked
"Isn't he fine. You can't help but listen when
he speaks. And he says such wonderful things."
"Do you think so?"
"Yes, I didn't understand all he said, but I felt that
it was true. Why, thrills went through me when
I looked into his face and listened closely to him. There
wasn't much chance to go to sleep in that church, was
"Well, you see, there was plenty .qJl fresh air."
Shortly after the ser\nce Mrs. Freman parted from
her friends to return to her own liome^; . Mrs/ SI -John,
with the two girls as helpers, noiw took charge of the
100 JOHN ST. JOHN
household affairs, and John was glad to see them go
about the work so light-heartedly. Dora donned a big
work apron which, to the young man's adoring eyes,
became her beautifully. Neatly, deftly, she went
about the work! There was grace even in her dish-
Around the table that evening, the talk turned to
what the Prophet had said about the temple. He had
urged all to do what was in their power to help complete
the building so that the blessings spoken of might be
enjoyed by the people. Mrs. St. John had brought with
her the price of her home. From this, she explained,
she would give a liberal donation to the Temple Com-
mittee. There would still remain enough to pay John's
few debts and to establish him in a small business.
They talked these things over freely as though they
were all members of one family whose interests were
common. True, Dora said very little, and when at
last John turned to her for an opinion on a business
venture, she said:
'*If you do that, it will mean that you will have to
remain here for a long time — for years?"
"Yes; of course. We are to stay here and grow up
with the country."
"Then— then, I don't know," she faltered. She
became quiet again, and shortly arose and went to her
room. John looked anxiously at his mother.
"Mother, go to her and do what you can for her —
and for me, 7 -he whispered.
"Not now," she replied; "after a while."
JOHN ST. JOHN 101
The Sunday following, they came in touch for the
first time with the kind of trouble which had now be-
come the common heritage of the Latter-day Saints.
It happened in this way:
They were all again at the services in the Temple
Sunday afternoon, June 25. While one of the eiders
was preaching, Patriarch Hyrum Smith came into the
meeting and strode to the stand. The speaker ceased,
and Hyrum, turning to the meeting, asked the men
present to meet him at the Masonic Hall in thirty
minutes. The men left immediately, and the meeting
came to a close.
"What is the matter?" asked Mrs. St. John of
"I do not know, but I fear Joseph is in trouble."
"Is there any danger?"
"Not for us. You folks go home, and Til no doubt
soon follow, and tell you all about it."
John with his brethren gathered to the designated
place; but so many responded to the call that one fourth
of them could not get in the room. Adjournment was
therefore taken to the green where a hollow square was
formed. Hyrum then told them that Joseph had been
kidnapped by Sheriff Reynolds of Jackson County,
Missouri, and Sheriff Wilson of Carthage. He explained
as far as he had learned what had happened to his
brother, and then asked for volunteers to go to his
assistance. About three hundred men answered to the
102 JOHN ST. JOHN
call, from which seventy-five were selected. These
immediately provided themselves with horses and
equipment, filling their powder horns and flasks from
Wilford Woodruff's ammunition barrel, and were
soon off for the rescue, while seventy-five others took
passage on the "Maid of Iowa" up the river.
John was among the number whose services were
not required, so he returned home, where he found his
mother and the girls nervously awaiting his coming.
He told them what he had heard, and what had been
"But why are they after the Prophet all the time?"
asked Jane. "Why do the Missourians want him?"
"The complete answer to your questions is a long
story, Jane. Although Joseph is not guilty of the crimes
they lay at his door, you will notice this" — John ad-
dressed himself to the little group about him — "that
the enemy always strikes at the head. The head of the
Church must always stand the brunt of attacks."
"But I don't understand," persisted Jane.
"No, neither do I, nor any of us, only that this is
merely an example of the eternal conflict between the
evil powers and the work of the Lord. However, there
seems to be discernible causes for much of our trouble.
I doubt whether the Missourians would bother them-
selves about us if it were not for the work of traitors!"
"Yes; one of the saddest things is that men who
have been one with us at least outwardly, and have
been in the confidence of the Prophet, have now turned
JOHN ST. JOHN 103
against him. They have become so embittered that
they would kill him if they could."
"John C. Bennett was once mayor of the city and
Joseph's friend. Now he is among the chief conspir-
ators for his destruction."
Dora listened, without comment, to John's ex-
planations, only raising her eyes now and then to his
as she went about her work in the room. The mother
ceased her reading of the Times and Seasons. Jane
for once was content to sit still and listen while John
talked as he did that afternoon.
Meanwhile, what was happening to Joseph?
A few days before, the Prophet with his family had
gone to visit with his wife's sister who lived near Dixon,
some two hundred miles north from Nauvoo. Gover-
nor Ford of Illinois, on a requisition of the Governor of
Missouri, had issued an order for Joseph's arrest, based
on the old treason charge. By passing themselves off
as "Mormon" elders seeking the Prophet, Sheriffs
Reynolds and Wilson had found where Joseph was
staying, and they pounced upon him one day while he
was walking in the yard . With cocked revolvers pointed
at his breast, they swore with shocking oaths that they
would kill him if he attempted to escape.
"What is the meaning of all this?" inquired
He was answered by more oaths and threats.
"I am not afraid of your shooting," declared the
Prophet. "I am not afraid to die." He bared his
breast and told them to shoot away. "I have endured
so much oppression, I am weary of life; and kill me, if
104 JOHN ST. JOHN
you please. I am a strong man, however, and with my
own natural weapons could soon level both of you; but
if you have any legal process to serve, I am at all times
subject to law, and shall not offer resistance."
Stephen Markham, who had come posthaste
from Nauvoo to warn the Prophet, now appeared on
the scene. When the sheriffs saw him coming, they
turned their weapons on him, threatening to kill him
if he came nearer. Markham paid no attention to
their threats but continued to advance. They then
turned their pistols on Joseph again, jamming them
against his sides, ordering Markham to stand still or
they would shoot Joseph through.
The officers now hurried their prisoner around to
the front of the house and into their wagon, and were
about to drive off without letting him get his hat and
coat or say goodby to his friends and family. Mark-
ham now sprang to the horses, and seizing them by the
bits, held them until Emma, Joseph's wife, could come
out with his clothes. The officers again threatened to
shoot, but Markham replied that "there is no law on
earth which requires a sheriff to take a prisoner without
Then away they went full speed to the town of
Dixon. Markham followed on horseback. For eight
miles, the dastardly officers jammed their pistols into
their prisoner's side, desisting only on being re-
proached by Markham for their cowardice.
Arriving at Dixon, Joseph was thrust into a room,
and communication denied him with any person. Mr.
Dixon, the owner of the house, and some of his friends,
being aroused to the gravity of the situation, now took
JOHN ST. JOHN 105
a hand to see justice done, with the result that Joseph
obtained a writ of habeas corpus, returnable before
Judge Caton of Ottowa. Markham now swore out
writs against Reynolds and Wilson, and they were
accordingly placed under arrest by the constable. In
this way, the whole company set out for Ottowa for
They stopped for the night at Pawpaw Grove,
thirty miles on their way. The news of Joseph's arrival
was hastily circulated about the neighborhood, and
very early next morning, the largest room in the hotel
was filled with citizens who were anxious to hear the
Prophet preach. But Sheriff Reynolds entered the
room, and pointing to Joseph, said :
"I wish you to understand that this man is my
prisoner, and I want you to disperse: you must not
gather around here this way.''
At this an old lame gentleman advanced toward
Reynolds, and bringing his large hickory walking stick
with a thump to the floor, said in no uncertain tones:
"You damned infernal puke, we'll learn you to
come here and interrupt gentlemen. Sit down there,
(pointing to a very low chair) and sit still. Don't
open your head till General Smith gets through talking.
If you never learned manners in Missouri, we'll teach
you that gentlemen are not to be imposed upon by a
nigger-driver. You cannot kidnap men here, if you
do in Missouri; and if you attempt it here, there's a
committee in this grove that will sit on your case; and,
sir, it is the highest tribunal in the United States, as
from its decision there is no appeal."
106 JOHN ST. JOHN
Joseph was permitted to address the people for an
hour and a half.
At Pawpaw Grove it was learned that Judge Caton
was not at home, so the company returned to Dixon.
Obtaining new warrants, they set out for Quincy; but
on the way, Joseph convinced his attorney that the
courts at Nauvoo had the necessary authority to try
him, so the entire party headed for that city.
And now small companies of men — Joseph's
friends who had come from Nauvoo — kept joining them.
Wilson and Reynolds, on hearing that their destination
was now Nauvoo, became fearful. With such friendly
forces at his command, Joseph now had the best of his
kidnappers. "I am not going to Missouri, this time,"
he said. The sheriffs planned without avail to get
their prisoner away, but as they themselves were
prisoners also, this was no easy task. They now became
very uneasy, but the Prophet assured them that they
would not be harmed.
Early Friday morning, June 30, 1843, word
reached Nauvoo that the Prophet and his party would
arrive in the city about noon. Preparations were im-
mediately made to give him a royal welcome. At half-
past ten the brass and the martial bands left the city
at the head of a procession, to meet the incoming
company. In this train were Emma, Hyrum, and many
of the principal citizens. Shortly after eleven o'clock,
when about a mile and a half from the Temple, the
two companies met. Joseph rode in a buggy, the officers
and lawyers in a stage coach. About one hundred
forty mounted men under Colonel Markham formed a
JOHN ST. JOHN 107
guard. These horsemen had decorated their horses'
bridles with the wild flowers of the prairie.
Joseph was a prisoner in the hands of Reynolds
and Wilson; these two officers were in turn prisoners
in the hands of Sheriff Campbell of Lee County; and
all these were now in charge of Colonel Markham and
his horsemen, who saw to it that all concerned were
safely delivered into the hands of the proper authorities
Joseph leaped from his vehicle into the arms of
his wife and his brother who shed tears of joy at his
safe return. Tears of gratitude also stood in the eyes
of the multitude who gathered silently about. Once
more their prophet had been delivered from the hands
of his enemies.
Joseph now mounted his favorite horse, "Old
Charley," and with Emma at his side, and the band
playing "Hail Columbia," the united companies moved
on into the city. The streets were lined with people so
that at times it was difficult for the procession to pass.
The people cheered lustily, guns were fired, and cannon
boomed. On arriving at Joseph's house, his aged
mother met him at the door. Tears of joy rolled down
her cheeks as she embraced her son. His children
clxmg to him.
The people stood about as if unwilling to disperse.
Then Joseph mounted a near-by fence, and looking out
upon the multitude, he said:
"I am out of the hands of the Missourians again,
thank God. I thank you for all your kindness and love
to me. I bless you all in the name of Jesus Christ,
108 JOHN ST. JOHN
Amen. I shall address you at the grove near the Temple
at four o'clock this afternoon."
The crowd now dispersed. Joseph and about
fifty of his company were served with dinner. Sheriffs
Reynolds and Wilson were placed at the head of the
table, and Emma herself waited on them!
In due time the Prophet stood trial before the
proper authorities in Nauvoo, and was acquitted. A
full report of the case was sent to Governor Ford, to
inform him what had been done.
JOHN ST. JOHN 109
Nauvoo's golden days followed. The young city
grew rapidly in beautiful homes, new gardens, and
larger fields. And the Prophet had a period of rest
from persecution when he could mingle freely with the
people and give to them the visions of heaven which
seemed to be continually before his eyes.
Mrs. St. John gloried in the new life into which she
had come. She was eager to be baptized, but John
asked her to wait a little in hopes that Dora also would
go with her. Dora was not one of the impulsive kind,
John explained to his mother. She, no doubt, was
weighing carefully all the evidences in favor of such a
step, and in due time she would be convinced. Mean-
while, they would have to be patient with her.
The summer days were full of work for them all,
full of interest, full of beauty. John was very happy.
Hardly a day passed but some soul-uplifiting
truth came from the lips of the Prophet or some of the
other brethren. Whenever his mother and the girls
were not in attendance at the meeting to hear, John
brought the news home, and they talked it over about
the table. On warm evenings, the moon or the stars
drew them out, and they sat in front of the house.
On one of these beautiful Sundays in July, after
the afternoon meeting, they all sat near the rustic
seat. A soft, cool breeze came up to them from the
river. A Sabbath quietness brooded over the land and
110 JOHN ST. JOHN
all its inhabitants, — all but Jane Fenton. After a space
of five long minutes, she at last exclaimed:
"How lovely all this is!"
John, seemingly, was of the same opinion, for he
"I am glad to agree with you. I am fairly in love
with the world today."
"In love with the world?" questioned Jane.
"Yes; and everything in it — at least, everything
that the Lord has placed in it."
There was a pause. Jane knew how to get John
to talking: she had no intention of having him cease
"Well, who else but God had anything to do with
making the world?" she asked.
"No one that I know of," he replied; "but the
devil has tried mighty hard to spoil what the Lord has
"Tried? Has he succeeded?" continued the girl.
"Jane, Jane!" admonished Dora. "Don't ask so
many foolish questions."
"Oh, they're not foolish," corrected John. "They
indicate an inquiring mind; and that is usually a hopeful
John went indoors to get his mother's light shawl
which he threw over her shoulders. He also brought
with him a book.
"Jane wants to know if the evil one has succeeded
in spoiling the handiwork of God," said John. "Let
me try to answer her. You may listen."
Dora looked silently down to the shining river and
to the dim Iowa side beyond.
JOHN ST. JOHN 111
"So far as the evil one has tempted men and women
to sin and thus brought evil into the world, so far has the
beauty of God's works been marred; but we must re-
member that this world of ours is the handiwork of
God, and as such is essentially good and beautiful; we
must also bear in mind that the earth is yet in the pro-
cess of making. The devil is only roiling the water, so
to speak. This earth 'abideth the law of a celestial
kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and
transgresseth not the law.' "
"What does that mean? That last part was a
quotation," declared observant Jane.
"You're right. It's from one of the revelations —
one which you must read some day for yourself. Well,
I understand the meaning to be that the earth is be-
having itself, and that it is spinning along in the
'straight and narrow way' — if I may say that of a body
whose path is nearly round — in the course which its
Creator marked out for it. It is not transgressing the
law of its being, and, therefore, it will reach the goal
of its creation, — celestial glory.
"I have heard preachers in my day cast all kinds
of evil repute on our earth and everything on it. If
they could see, not only the present, but the potential
beauty and grandeur of our mother earth, they would
not do this. The earth, they say, is a very evil place,
and in theory, they want to get away from it as soon
as possible. As for me, I want to stay here as long as I
can; and then, when I die, I want to get back to it
as soon as it is permissible."
"7 want to go to heaven," suggested Dora.
"And so do I," said John; "but where is heaven?"
112 JOHN ST. JOHN
Jane pointed up into the blue sky, but no one
answered more definitely.
''Well/' John went on, "I suppose there are more
heavens than one. Paul, I believe, writes of the third
heaven. The Book of Abraham, from which I was
reading to you the other day, tells us that one of the
great stars in the firmament is called Kolob, and that it
is set 'nigh unto the throne of God,' where the Eternal
Father dwells. That surely is a heaven, but one
about which we know very little as yet. When we
attain to that heaven which is designed for us, it will
be right here on this celestialized earth. Mother, you
are a scriptural student, what does the Bible say
"'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit
the earth,'" quoted the mother.
John opened the book which he had brought out.
None of the others had anything further to say, but
were in a mood to listen to him, so he went on: "Let
me read to you a few paragraphs from a revelation
given to Joseph on this question of the earth and its
"We're Hstening," said Jane.
" 'The redemption of the soul is through him who
quickeneth all things, in whose bosom it is decreed
that the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it.
" 'Therefore it must needs be sanctified from all
unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the
" 'For after it hath filled the measure of its cre-
ation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the
presence of God the Father;
JOHN ST. JOHN 118
** That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom
may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent
was it made and created, and for this intent are they
" 'And they who are not sanctified through the
law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ,
must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terres-
trial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom.
" Tor he who is not able to abide the law of a
celestial kingdom, cannot abide a celestial glory ;
" 'And he who cannot abide the law of a ter-
restrial kingdom, cannot abide a terrestrial glory:
" 'He who cannot abide the law of a telestial king-
dom, cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not
meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must
abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.' "
John put his whole soul into the reading, and the
light which seemed to radiate from his face was surely
a reflection of that intelligence which is the glory of
God. The little group sat under the spell of the in-
spired words, as the reader ceased and became quiet
with them. Dora's eyes wandered from river to town,
glancing only in transition at the handsome face beside
her; but Jane, with unabashed frankness, looked at
John for some time, then:
"Tell us about it, John."
John smiled at her. "I don't think I can make it
any plainer than the Lord has made it," he said.
"It's too deep, or high — or something, for me,"
explained Jane. "Tell it to us in plain, every-day
"Well, there seems to be grades of attainment in
114 JOHN ST. JOHN
the worlds to come as well as there are in this. The
earth, as we have learned, 'abideth the law.' When it
shall have completed the course the Lord designed for
it, it will become celestialized. Just what that means,
we, of course, cannot say; but it must be a very high
degree of development. 'Crowned with glory' is one
descriptive term. Now, it is reasonable to conclude
that all those persons who have also abided the law,
who have been celestialized and crowned with glory
will find this earth exactly fitted to their needs and con-
ditions. All who are not able to live up to the high
requirements of celestial glory, must go to a lower
condition or kingdom, called the terrestrial; and those
who are not able to abide the terrestrial law will find
their level in the telestial world. And some, it seems,
not being able or willing to live even the telestial law,
must be content with a kingdom without any glory
at all. You remember, Dora, the other evening we
read from the revelation called *The Vision' more about
these degrees of glory."
Dora nodded assent, but Jane spoke again:
"I suppose, John, that you'll want to go to the
*'Well, Jane, I am a candidate; but I may not be
able to 'abide the law.' "
"I want to go there, also. Tell me— tell us all —
"Yes; we all want to be together. I fear it would
not be a perfect heaven if we had to leave behind any of
our loved ones And how shall we get there?
Let me read again, this time from The Vision' wherein
the Prophet saw those who had inherited the celestial
JOHN ST. JOHN 115
world. Speaking of these, he says: They are they who
received the testimony of Jesus, and beheved on his
name, and were baptized after the manner of his burial,
being buried in the water in his name, and this accord-
ing to the commandment which he has given.
" That by keeping his commandments they might
be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive
the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him
who is ordained and sealed unto this power.
" *Who overcometh by faith, and are sealed by the
Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth
upon all those who are just and true.' "
"There are other requirements," commented John;
"but these are some of the essentials which lie at the
foundation or the beginning of the upward cHmb."
"What does 'buried in water' mean?" asked Jane.
"It means to be baptized in the right way and by
the proper person. We were sprinkled as infants, but
you, as a Book of Mormon reader, know what the Lord
says about that."
John's words seemed, for the most part, to be
directed to Jane; but he hoped that they would also
find lodgment with Dora. The afternoon darkened to
evening. Through the still air came the lowing of
cattle, and now and then the voice of some one singing
the songs of Zion. There being no large meeting rooms
in Nauvoo which could be lighted, evening services
were not usually held. Thus the Sabbath evenings
were profitably spent at home.
"I think I'll go in now," said Mrs. St. John.
"I'll go with you," added Jane.
Arm in arm, these two went into the house. When
116 JOHN ST. JOHN
the lamps were lighted and they saw that John and
Dora were not coming in just then, they were in no
hurry to set the table for the cold lunch which they ate
on Sunday evenings. Jane drew Mrs. St. John to a
seat by the window.
"Fm going to write mama/' said the girl, "and
ask her if I may be baptized when you are. May I?"
"Why, yes, my dear, if that's the way you feel."
"You have been waiting for Dora, I know. But
wait for me, too. I want to go with you. I — I am
The mother drew the girl close and kissed her.
They clung to each other in silence. Both their eyes
were wet with tears, though they were not so dim but
that, when they looked out of the open window, they
could see that John and Dora had retreated to the
rustic seat where the ivy was climbing protectingly
up the trellis.
JOHN ST. JOHN 117
Mrs. St. John and Jane had gone to the Frelands
for the afternoon, leaving John and Dora to keep
house. Supper time was approaching and Dora was
setting the table. John was pretending to read, but
what printed page could equal in interest the person-
ality of such a girl as Dora Fenton! There was a winning
charm in her every movement, as she arranged to a
nicety the plates and the cups and polished once more
the glasses. The setting sun poured its red light
through the west window into the room, and Dora
walked about at her work in its warm glow.
"I fear the water is not fresh," she said, as she
went to the pail to fill her pitcher. She smiled archly
"I'm glad," he declared.
"Because I want to do something. I want to help
you." He brought a pail of cool water from the well,
and filled the pitcher.
"I think everything is ready," she announced.
They sat on opposite sides of the table and ate
their supper. Indeed, they looked very much like a
young married couple in the cosiness of their home.
Dora appeared to be content with the pleasantness of
the moment; John's happiness was dulled by the knowl-
edge that the girl before him had so far refused to give
him any definite promise. Dora chatted freely, and
John was content to listen, and to think He was
118 JOHN ST. JOHN
glad she had not been in Missouri. Could she have
stood those soul-trying times? But were they now
free from mobs? Perhaps not. John knew very well
that the Prophet had looked far out westward into the
Rocky mountains for a place of refuge for his people;
but what would be the cause of their removal, and who
of them would go? Was that vision of loveliness before
him fit for tragic scenes? The twilight deepened
as the meal ended.
"Shall I light the lamp?'' asked Dora.
"No; and leave the table as it is. Let's go outside
and see the coming of the stars."
The girl made no objections. They took chairs
with them. The sky was clear. The evening star shone
above the darkening western horizon.
"When will Jane and your mother be home?"
"Depend upon it, Sister Freland will keep them as
long as possible; and then, you know, there is that
wonderful new grandson to be inspected and pronounced
A neighbor going by, paused at the gate with a
greeting, and then passed on, for which John was
grateful. Opportunities to be alone with Dora were
not many; speech was easy between them that evening,
and John hoped they would not be disturbed for some
"A penny for your thoughts," said John as he saw
his companion with a far-away look in her face.
"I was thinking of Jane."
"Yes; what about her?"
"I suppose she's more religious than I. Ever since
JOHN ST. JOHN 119
that talk of yours the other day about the earth and the
degrees of glory, she has been reading your books, and,
as usual, she has put two and two together."
"This is what she asked me the other day: If this
earth in its perfected state is to be inhabited by
celestial beings only, what is to become of those who
attain merely a terrestrial or a telestial glory? Where
will they live?" The girl looked at her companion
as if she had "cornered the preacher."
"Children's questions are not so foolish as they
sometimes appear to be, for frequently they give
utterance to that which comes naturally into their
hearts, uncontaminated with the teachings of the world.
Jane's question may not be answerable, but it is not
foolish. I have an idea — mind you, only a theory of
my own — regarding it. Would you like to hear it?"
"ril have to begin at some distant point and lead
up to it." He looked up into the sky where many of
the brighter stars were now plainly seen. "Have you
ever studied astronomy?" he asked.
"Well, I know merely the rudiments of the science,
but it is a wonderfully fascinating study. I have heard
Orson Pratt lecture on the stars, but he became so
mathematical that I could not follow him."
"Tell me about them, if you can, without being
scientific." Evidently, Dora had already forgotten her
original question. Both were now looking up into the
"The thousands of stars which we can see on a
120 JOHN ST. JOHN
clear night," began John, "are a long, long way off.
They appear to us to always occupy the same po-
sition in the sky, therefore they are called fixed stars.
Among these many fixed stars, there are, as far as we
have discovered, six exceptions. Six of the stars
move, for we see them in different positions in the
heavens. For example, that beautiful clear star just
about to set behind the western horizon is, doubtless,
the planet Venus. Sometimes Venus can be seen early
in the morning, and is then our morning star. These
six stars are not all seen in our heaven at the same time;
some are in the hemisphere on the opposite side of the
earth, and some are in our heaven in the day time, and
therefore, cannot be seen by us. These seven stars are
the planets which revolve around the sun, and con-
stitute what we call the solar system."
"Are there seven? You said six," corrected Dora.
"At first I was speaking of the planets we can see
in the sky. The seventh is our earth, which is one of
"Is our earth a star?"
"Our earth is one of the seven planets which revolve
about the sun. To an observer on one of the other six,
the earth would be seen as a star. Now, these seven
planets are comparatively close together. They, with
the great central body — the sun — form a group . We are
more especially interested in this group because it is
our own family, so to speak, and we know more about
it. Let me tell you a little about each of the planets
of this solar system.
"The planet nearest the center of this group is
called Mercury, which is about thirty-six millions of
JOHN ST. JOHN 121
miles from the sun, around which it revolves in eighty-
eight of our days. It is smaller than the earth. Next
comes Venus, our present evening star. It is nearly the
same size as the earth, and its year is two hundred
twenty-five of our days. Through a telescope we can
see its disk, and that it has phases like our moon. Our
own earth comes next in order, being about ninety-three
million miles from the sun. As this is a lesson in as-
tronomy and not geography, Fll not say any more
about the earth."
"You told us something about the earth the other
"So I did. Mars comes next in the circle. Mars
shines with a reddish color. It is one of our nearest
neighbors. At certain times in its course. Mars gets
so near the earth that we can study its surface more
closely and see that it is something like our own planet."
"With people on it?"
"That we do not know, though there's no known
reason why there shouldn't be. The next planet is
Jupiter, the giant member of the sun's family. It is
bigger than all the other planets put together. It is
five times as far from the sun as the earth, and it re-
quires twelve of our years to make its yearly revolution
about the sun. Saturn, the next planet, is a little
smaller than Jupiter. It has some strange rings about
it, and its year is twenty-nine times as long as ours.
Then, as far as we now know, the outermost planet is
Uranus.* It is nineteen times as far out from the sun
as we are, and it takes eighty-four of our years to make
its journey around the sun."
*Neptune was not discovered until 1846,
122 JOHN ST. JOHN
"What long seasons there must be on Uranus,"
suggested Dora, — "just one of each in a lifetime."
"Of course, we know very little about conditions
on these planets. Very likely, most of them are un-
inhabited, being yet in the early stages of creation. —
Oh, I nearly forgot the Asteroids. They are very
"What are they?"
"In the orbit between Mars and Jupiter (by orbit
we mean path around the sun) there have been dis-
covered a number of small bodies called Asteroids.
Four have already been found, with the likelihood that
there are many more. Think of it, some of these little
spheres are no more than twenty miles in diameter —
regular little doll worlds! How would you like one
of them for a plaything?"
"They would be cute, wouldn't they?"
"Jupiter doesn't appeal to me as these Asteroids
do. Just imagine one of these little worlds given to
you, — say a round globe two or three hundred miles
in circumference, perfect in hills, meadows, forests,
lakes and rivers, with blue skies and floating clouds!
I would like it just as it came, newly made from Na-
ture's hand, without the grass being cut, or flowers
cultivated, or trees trimmed in any way. I wouldn't
want roads, or fences, or houses, for it would be my
work and my pleasure to subdue it and cultivate it
"All by yourself? Are you not selflsh?"
"Selfish? Oh, I hope not. I would want you to be
with me, Dora. I was thinking of this as merely the
beginning of our kingdom of glory. I suppose this
JOHN ST. JOHN 123
world idea is only an elaboration of my boyhood
Robinson Crusoe fantasy; but to be alone, — Oh, no."
Dora was silent, but she was not displeased. After
a time, she asked: "What about the moon?"
John laughed. "The moon — Oh, yes — we have
nearly forgotten the moon, which is a somewhat smaller
body revolving about the earth. Most of the planets
have one or more moons. Seven have been discovered
as belonging to Saturn."
"There must be a lot of moonlight there."
"Well, you see, Saturn is so far away from the sun
that she might need more light reflectors."
There was a pause in their talk, during which
their eyes followed the lights of a steamer which was
slowly pushing up the river. When it had disappeared
behind the trees on the island, John resumed:
"Now, Dora, I am ready to answer your question."
"Why, Jane's and yours."
"Oh, yes, I had forgotten. All right."
"I have been telling you about these various
planets which belong to our immediate family. The
earth is one of them. The Lord has told us that the
earth 'abideth the law of a celestial glory,' and at some
time will be the abode of celestial beings. Now, isn't
it possible that some of these other planets are destined
for the terrestrial and the telestial glories, and that
they also are filling the 'measure of their creation' to
become fit habitations for those who will receive these
glories? Undoubtedly, there will be vastly more of
those who will attain to the lesser glories than those
124 JOHN ST. JOHN
who will reach the highest. Jupiter would be able to
provide for a lot of these!"
Dora looked her astonishment. "What a dreamer
you are, John!" she said.
"Mind you, Vm not teaching this as doctrine. It's
only a bit of my own fertile fancy."
"Mormonism seems to have quickened that fancy
"It has. There are more wonders in heaven and
on the earth than men have ever dreamed of in their
philosophy; and Mormonism has unbarred the way to
many of these wonders. In fact, Dora, I am beginning
to believe that the most beautiful dream of which I am
capable, may some day be far surpassed by the reality!
Did you read those writings of Abraham, translated
by Joseph and printed in the Times and SeasonsT'
"Yes, I did some reading, but I remember dis-
tinctly that I understood but little of it."
"Then Fll tell you about these things, for they
fit in very appropriately this evening with our as-
tronomical studies. Something was revealed to Abra-
ham which our astronomers have not as yet demonstrat-
ed. Now, you will have to go with me on a journey far
out into space, away from this little solar system of
ours to other solar systems."
"Other solar systems?"
"Yes. All these stars, with the exception of our
seven planets, are also suns, and undoubtedly, have
planets revolving about them. Abraham was shown
the 'set times of the greater light' — meaning the sun.
He was also shown the 'set times of all the stars.' This
would seem to indicate that the stars also move about
JOHN ST. JOHN 125
some central point: that is, the sun, with all its attend-
ant planets, and the stars with their planets, all move
about some great central world."
"John, John!" exclaimed Dora, "stop a moment."
"What is it?"
"I can't follow you. Fm lost in this maze of
John reached for his companion's hand and held
it firmly. "Now, you stay close to me," he advised
smilingly, "and we two shall travel together to the
utmost bounds of time and space. Do not be afraid."
"The universe is so immense!"
"Yes; but it is God's universe, remember that
And the 'light of Christ proceedeth forth from the
presence of God to fill the immensity of space!' By that
light we may go without fear to any part of God's
domain Now, the Lord told Abraham the very
name of the star which governs all those which belong
to our order of worlds, which name is Kolob. Kolob
is the greatest of all the stars shown to Abraham,
'because it is nearest unto the throne of God.' A day
on Kolob is as a thousand years with us, and this is the
Lord's time of reckoning.
"Then Abraham was told that there were other
great stars which were also governing ones — that is,
about which other stars revolve. Then, Dora, — hold
tight— I surmise that all these systems also revolve
about a common center."
The girl was silent.
"Now let me repeat, just to get the thought clear
in my own mind," said John, as he looked steadily out
into the blue heavens. — Dora was listening to what
126 JOHN ST. JOHN
seemed a carriage up the road. — "The moon revolves
about the earth; earth with its moon revolves about the
sun; the sun and the other sun-stars, together with
their accompanying planets and moons, revolve about
Kolob; Kolob, then, is the center of a great system;
there are other systems like that which Kolob governs;
and all these great systems revolve about another com-
mon center; and —
"John, somebody has driven into the yard."
The folks had come home. They alighted from
the carriage and entered the house. As John lighted
the lamp, Jane caught sight of the neglected supper
"Mother St. John," she exclaimed, "look at that
Mother looked, but did not scold. Mother knew:
who could see an unkept table when the light of stars
was in their eyes!
JOHN ST. JOHN 127
Colder winds and rains heralded the coming of
autumn, and yet Mrs. St. John was not formally a
member of the Church. John had pleaded with her
time and again to wait a little longer in hopes that
Dora would accompany her to the waters of baptism,
until at last he was ashamed to ask for further delay,
and the mother went without the company of the
John had been very patient with Dora. It is not
given to all to grasp the truth readily, he reasoned.
Some must be carefully and patiently taught. He
must give her more time. She would come, for how
could such a good, sweet girl harden her heart against
the truth? And did they not love each other? Love,
surely, would melt away any barrier between them.
^ Nevertheless, John was keenly disappointed when
Dora was not baptized at the time his mother was.
The joy of having his mother with him in the faith
was overshadowed by Dora's procrastination. On the
evening of the baptism, there was a little extra on the
table by way of celebration, but John's heart ached
when he observed that Dora, apparently, had no re-
grets. She was as carefree and as cheerful as ever.
Evidently, she had not been "pricked in the heart,"
and thus awakened to repentance and the need of a
remission of sins.
^■"^ The very next day John attended a meeting with
the brethren where he learned clearly and definitely the
128 JOHN ST. JOHN
doctrine of celestial marriage. He had heard rumors
and second-hand accounts of the revelation containing
this doctrine, but the matter had not been plain 'to
him. In fact, as expounded by gossiping neighbors,
the new teachings were not very clear. That
evening, however, John St. John sat under the spell of
the Patriarch's voice and heard the revelation read in
full. John had noted the part which dealt with the
plurality of wives, but, somehow, that had not im-
pressed him deeply. That which shone with a beauti-
ful new light was the doctrine of the eternity of the
marriage covenant. Gospel truths had usually come
to him slowly, opening to his understanding as a flower
opens to the sun; but this truth came to him as a great
flood of light, and his whole soul bathed in its effulgent
It was late that evening when John walked home-
ward in a state of rapture. The house was dark, its
inmates being asleep. How could he wait until morning
to impart that which he had received? But he went
to bed and lay a long time awake, indulging in dreams
far surpassing those which come in sleep.
John overslept next morning, much to his annoy-
ance, and had to rush off without saying much to the
folks. When he came home for dinner, Dora was not
in good humor. She showed him a letter from her
"Any bad news?" he asked.
"Yes," replied Jane before Dora could answer.
"She scolds us for staying away so long," ex-
plained the elder sister. "She wants us to come home."
"Fm sorry — " was the extent of John's comment.
JOHN ST. JOHN 129
'*I suppose mama is lonesome/* said Dora, "and
we ought to go home."
"She might come to us," suggested Jane. "I like
it better here."
But the sister would not discuss that possibility;
she seemed to favor their going home. John was silent
and soon went back to his work.
But that evening John could keep still no longer.
After supper, he asked Dora to walk out with him.
The evening was clear and cold, so wraps were needed.
Their steps led toward the river. If the cold weather
continued, the river would freeze, navigation would
cease for the winter, and Dora would not be able to
"Where are we going?" she asked.
"Just for a walk. I want to be out in this bracing
"What is the matter, John?"
"Nothing — and yet so much! 0, Dora, can't you
see, don't you know?"
They paused in their walk as John took her hands
firmly in his.
"I want you, Dora — I want you for my wife.
You've known that for a long time. Stay here with
me I fear you are going to leave me, and I
want you more than ever nowl"
"Yes; last evening I heard something wonderful,
Dora, something which affects me and you. That
which prophets have but seen, and poets merely sung
about has become a fact to us here and now!"
130 JOHN St. JOHN
"You are always finding wonders."
"Yes." — He was yet blind to her hidden meaning.
"I've heard the revelation on celestial marriage."
"Celestial marriage! What's that?"
John told her; but he felt that his words were halt-
ing and his expression poor; his vision suffered very
much in the telling. Dora listened silently, patiently,
and after he had talked himself out, she said:
"But, John — all this does not apply to me. I do
not belong to your church, and all these wondrous
promises are for its members only."
John was silenced. He had not even kindled an
interest in this girl, and he had thought to have set her
heart aflame! She was cold — cold spiritually and bodily,
so he took her home, and without many words, bade
John, however, went out again; and for an hour or
more he walked, brooding, thinking, trying to get rid
of a great fear in his heart. The promises of the Vision
with the degrees of glory came again to him. The
terrestrial world was composed of those who receive
not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards
received it. Then it would be too late for his purpose.
Dora, certainly, was not "valiant in the testimony of
Jesus" Ever since he had received a
knowledge of what the future held out to God's faithful
children, he had set his heart on attaining to the con-
dition where he might "dwell in the presence of God and
his Christ for ever and ever," and that he might be
"heir to all things, whether life or death, or things
present, or things to come." These aspirations shone
in his heart as the Holy Spirit of promise. And always
JOHN ST. JOHN 13i
in his visioning Dora had been by his side. What
would celestial glory be without her? for had she not
grown to be a part of his very being? But Dora,
that very evening, in a matter-of-fact way, had called
his attention to the difference between them, and she
had said it as if she either did not care, or that
she did not understand. . . . "For what doth it profit
a man if a gift is bestowed upon him and he receiveth
not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is
given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the
giver of the gift." Was it possible that Dora was
one of these unappreciative ones? So far, he had failed
to see in her any "rejoicing" over the "gifts" which he
had brought her Would the time come when he
would have to make a choice between his vision with-
out Dora, and Dora without his vision? Would he
have to make such a choice? "If so, God help me,"
prayed John St. John.
John arose early next morning. The Lord had sent
him sleep, the restorer and comforter to help him and
give him new hope. Dora was very kind to him that
day, as indeed, also the days which followed.
The winter months passed somewhat unevent-
fully. Mrs. Fenton's letters came regularly. Some-
times they were "very nice," and at other times they
displayed a spirit of fearfulness as to her daughters'
safety among a people of whom she had heard so much
that was not good. Early in the year 1844, it was
evident that Mrs. Fenton was aroused to an apparent
danger. Mrs. St. John added her letter to those of the
girls to try to allay the mother's fears, but it seemed
to no purpose. All this annoyed Dora and worried
132 JOHN ST. JOHN
John. At last, Dora wrote her mother that she would
come home as soon as the river traffic opened. She
kept this letter a number of days before she took it to
the post office, but eventually she posted it without
saying anything to John. A few days after, realizing
that she had not been quite fair, she told him.
"Do you mean, Dora, that you are going to leave
me — that you are not going to stay here?''
"I must go home to mother. She is so worried."
"But you'll come back?"
"I— I can't tell."
They were walking from the store where she had
been to make some purchases, and as it was about
closing time, he was going home with her and carrying
her packages. The darkening evening was wet. The
snow had gone from the sidewalks, but there was mud
in places over which they had to pass with care ....
John realized that, do what he could, she was drifting
away from him. He had some news which he was also
keeping from her; he had been fearful of the conse-
quences. But now he might as well out with it. There
would be nothing more to lose, and perchance, there
would be something to gain by speaking.
"Dora," he began, "I do not question your right
to go to your mother. Under present conditions, per-
haps, that is the best thing to do, for it seems now that
I also shall leave Nauvoo."
"To go with me, John?"
"Oh, no, my dear. My journey is in quite the
opposite direction. You may have heard of a pros-
pective move westward. Well, the Prophet, seeing, no
JOHN ST. JOHN 133
doubt, that the old troubles may come upon us again,
has determined to send a body of men to investigate
locations in California and Oregon, where, after the
Temple is completed, we can move, and, as he said,
*Where we can build a city in a day, and have a govern-
ment of our own, get up in the mountains, where the
devil cannot dig us out/ The party is to be well pro-
vided and armed. 'I want every man that goes to be
a king and a priest,' said Joseph, 'when he gets on the
mountains, he may want to talk with his God.' "
"What odd expressions the Prophet makes!" com-
mented Dora. "He is not at all like other preachers."
"No, thank God, he isn't," said John with un-
"Have you been called to go?"
"Oh, no; volunteers only are wanted; but I have
partly promised to be one of the party."
"But it's nothing but deserts and impassable
mountains out there, I have heard."
"Then the better would we be protected from
"And Indians — "
"Indians can do no v/orse than what I have seen
done by so-called civilized men."
She clung to his arm as if there were real danger of
losing him. John was glad he had told her.
"If you are going to leave," he went on, "I also
might as well. We might as well be two thousand
miles apart as one thousand but I don't know
"She can come home with us," said the girl as if
the thdught was a ha,ppy one. "She mustn't stay hfere
134 JOHN ST. JOHN
alone, especially as you say there is likely to be more
Before he could reply, they were at the door. Jane
held out a letter for her sister. "It's mother's hand-
writing," she declared, "but look at the postmark!"
"St. Louis," said Dora. She hastily opened the
envelope and read the letter.
"Well?" questioned Jane impatiently.
"Mother is in St. Louis," announced Dora, "and
she's coming to Nauvoo on the first steamer!"
JOHN ST. JOHN 135
During the first days in March, the boats began to
come up the river from St. Louis. John met them each
day. A few days after Mrs. Fenton's letter, she her-
There were joyous greetings all around. Mrs.
Fenton was tired and glad to end the longest journey
she had ever taken. Jane relieved her of her bonnet,
Dora of her wraps, and then she sank into the easy
chair which John placed for her.
"Gracious,'* mildly exclaimed Mrs. Fenton, "had
I known this place is so far away from home, I never
would have undertaken the trip."
"But we are so glad you came," said Dora, to
which Mrs. St. John agreed.
"Well, at any rate I am glad to be here safe and
"Have you had any trouble on the way?" asked
"Not exactly trouble — but the talk Fve heard!"
"What have you heard, mother?"
"On the boat from St. Louis — I was scared nearly
to death. There were some men on board — they said
they knew what they were talking about. One was a
preacher, and others, from what I could learn, were
Mormons living here in Nauvoo."
"Well, what did they say?"
"It makes me shiver to repeat it. They said —
that Joseph Smith had men's heads cut off in Missouri,
136 JOHN ST. JOHN
and those whom he wanted put out of the way were
stabbed to the heart! They said that the Mormons
were thieves and robbers — and everything wicked. I
wondered what I was coming to!"
"Were you frightened, mama?" laughed Jane.
"Well, I didn't know what to think."
"Does Nauvoo impress you as being a robbers'
den?" asked John.
"No; everything here looks peaceable enough. I
don't understand it. What do mobs want to come here
"Mobs?" questioned Dora.
"Yes; the men on the boat said that it would be a
matter of only a short time when the citizens of the
county would drive the Mormons from the state. In
fact, they claimed that they were organizing now for
Mrs. Fenton was assured that there was no im-
mediate danger of such lawlessness. There had always
been some agitation against the Church, but as for
mobs, the Nauvoo Legion was strong enough to protect
the city from any such attacks.
During the next few days, Mrs. Fenton looked
about the city, scanning the town carefully with her
"What do you raise here?" she asked.
"Anything that you can raise at home," explained
"Yes; but we have had to plant corn and grain
first. We have all kinds of fruit, and I am told thiat the
location here is good for grapfes."
JOHN ST. JOHN 137
"You certainly have a big, fine place here; but what
assurance have you that you will be permitted to re-
main and develop the country?''
The two girls joined them at this point, and John
hesitated in telling Mrs. Fenton the exact truth re-
garding her last question. However, it must be an-
swered, and answered right.
"We have no such assurance," he said. "In fact,
it is probable that we shall move again soon."
"And where this time?"
"Westward into the Rocky mountains."
"My! but your mother can't make such a jour-
ney, and my daughter shall not, if I can help it."
John did not reply, and so Mrs. Fenton went on:
"I see more trouble ahead for you, John. Why not all
of us go back to Belford? Why can you not live your
religion there as well as here? Why these prophets?
Why this new church? Why this gathering? Why so
much that people talk about and people hate you for?"
Dora was fearful that John and her mother would
get into an unpleasant discussion on religious themes;
but her forebodings were groundless. John very quietly
and carefully tried to answer the flow of questions.
"As to gathering," said he, "it is natural that like
attracts like. People whose religious beliefs are the
same can better put that belief into practice if they
come together in organized bodies. Naturally, the
race is social. Living alone is not conducive to the
best growth. I have an idea that the Lord's early
declaration that 'it is not good for the man to be alone'
has a v/ide signification. We ought not to live so far
apiart that we have no one to bump against."
138 JOHN ST. JOHN
"Bump against?" reiterated Mrs. Fenton — "and
to be hurt?"
"Yes, perchance — and to put up with, to pity, to
sympathize with, to sacrifice for, and to love." John's
eyes fell on Dora as he said this. "But one of the chief
purposes of our gathering is that we might build a
Mrs. Fenton did not care to talk about temples.
She was a practical woman whose practicability did not
reach very far into the spiritual world. The greater
part of her religion consisted of church-going; and
taking part in benefit socials, entertaining the min-
ister, and donating to the foreign mission fund, were
the chief auxiliaries. John knew this. He understood
her view-point and the little that religion meant to her
and to those of her kind. And the young man, when
the occasion was opportune, tried to impart to her his
own broadened views.
Religion," he said, "is not something that can be
added to or taken from one's natural life. Religion —
true religion, of course, — is life, life from the beginning
of time to the end, if such limitations can be conceived.
The faith which is given to the true believer is the
moving force of all action. That faith, therefore,
directs the individual to come or to go or to remain;
for in it, as in the Divine Life, we *live and move and
have our being.' "We — " unconsciously, he made his
talk personal — "gather together, we move from one
state to another, we build, we plant and reap, we go on
missions, we marry and rear families — yes, we are bom
and we die — and it is all a part of our religion."
Mrs. Fenton pushed her glasses to her forehead
JOHN ST. JOHN 139
that her view of John might be clearer. She admired
his fine face, finer than ever, she thought, when he
L"got to preaching."
— Shortly after Mrs. Fenton's arrival, a large public
meeting was held within the Temple walls. This was
her first opportunity to see and hear the Prophet. The
first meeting began at nine in the morning. The
Prophet was not present at the opening, but came in
later. Hyrum was on the stand, as were Brigham
Young and several others of the Twelve.
HjTum spoke first on the need of everyone assist-
ing to build the Temple. The sisters, he said, were
going to raise means by the aid of a penny fund to buy
the nails and the glass; he expected the brethren to do
the rest. Presently, Joseph came in to the meeting,
and soon took the stand. He did not begin his remarks
with a firstly, and then develop a sermon by logical
steps. He flung out thoughts, admonitions, comments,
as they seemed to come to him with little sequence.
Instead of preaching from a scriptural text, the Prophet
spoke of the questionable actions of some lawyers in
the city. "We have a gang of simple fellows here,"
he declared, ''who do not know where their elbows
or heads are I fear not their boiling over, nor
the boiling over of hell." The speaker referred to a
disgraceful article about the Latter-day Saints in the
New York Tribune, and reproved the writer, who, pre-
sumably, was a local person. At this point a man arose
in the congregation and asked if the speaker had re-
ferred to him.
"No," said Joseph, "I do not know you."
Hyrum then spoke again, but his remarks were in-
140 JOHN ST. JOHN
terrupted by a dialogue between a man in the audience
and Joseph. It appears that the Prophet's remarks
about pettifogging lawyers had angered the man.
The meeting closed at twelve, and at two o'clock
the people assembled again. Mrs. Fen ton said she
wanted "to see it out," so she was there. The first
speaker was Brigham Young. Mrs. Fenton approved
his remarks as being ''full of common sense." He was
followed by John Taylor who explained that certain
articles were badly needed to carry on the work on the
Temple. A man was waiting to take a steamer to St.
Louis to buj^ these articles, but he had no money. A
collection would have to be taken up. Elder Taylor
ceased his preaching while this was done, then he went
on with his talk.
Mrs. Fenton went home that afternoon in a con-
fused state of mind. She felt as if she had not
attended a religious meeting. That evening she gave
John her views.
"I do not want to criticise," she said, "but your
services appeared to me to be largely devoted to
"Yes, that is true," admitted John; "and I am sorry
that you did not hear a good doctrinal sermon at this
your first meeting. Today's services were devoted
largely to the matter of completing the Temple. It is
important that the Temple be built. The Temple —
that is, the walls, the floor, the roof, etc., are material
things, but the use to which the building will be put is
wholly spiritual. You see, the spiritual and the tem-
poral are very closely connected. Our bodies are tem-
poral, and we must care for them; but they are merely
JOHN ST. JOHN 141
tabernacles for the spirit. We cannot neglect the one
without the other being affected."
"But at times Joseph Smith's language was a
little rough," demurred Mrs. Fenton.
**Yes; he himself admits that he is an unpolished
stone. He sometimes says things in a blunt way, but
by so doing he arouses attention. I'll grant the manner
of saying a thing is important, but the more vital issue
is whether the thing said is true or not. Did you notice
that those whose consciences were clear were not dis-
turbed by the brethren's criticisms. I fear the cap fit
Brother Foster; he seemed eager to put it on."
"Anyway, I'm disappointed in the Prophet."
"In what way?"
"He doesn't look like a prophet."
"Have you ever seen a prophet before?"
"Then how can you tell what a prophet should
Mrs. Fenton did not say.
"The trouble is this," reasoned John. "We have
been without prophets for a long time, having been in
touch with them through the printed page only.
Trophets were men of God who lived two thousand
years ago' might well be a modern definition. As dis-
tance lends enchantment, a sort of halo has formed
about these historic men, and we have conceived them
to be different from other men, and, of course, very,
very holy. Then again, the paintings of the masters
have frequently augmented this wrong impression of
prophets and apostles."
142 JOHN ST. JOHN
Jane nodded at this point as if she wholly under-
stood and agreed.
"And now, Mrs. Fenton, I take you to see a
prophet — a real, live one; and what do you find? An
individual bearing the common name of Smith. He
is a fine, clean-looking, red-blooded young man, with
no long beard or pious look. He dresses like the rest of
us. There is nothing about him suggestive of a mil-
dewy past, but he lives very much in the present,
reflecting in his blue eyes the smiling sunlight of the
sky above him here and now. All this does not tally
with what you have conceived a prophet should be,
and so you are disappointed.
"Had we lived in the days of the ancient prophets,
we would have seen that they were men like unto those
about them. Even of Jesus, it was said by his own
people: *Is not this the carpenter's son?' His beauty
was not so apparent that men desired Him, but He was
despised and rejected and numbered with the trans-
gressors; and yet, think of what the Savior of mankind
really was! Perhaps we would have been like the large
majority — blinded to the greatness of that which was
with us, with our eyes holden so that we could not see,
but I hope not. I do not want to be numbered with
those who garnish the tombs of the dead prophets, but
kill the live ones of our own day.''
"I don't want to either, John."
"Of course not, Mrs. Fenton. Now, here is the
thought I want to make clear, if I can: For myself, I
want to appreciate to the fullest, the significance of
the present. I am trying to glorify the present because
in it I live — through the here and the now solely do I
JOHN ST. JOHN 143
come in contact with life. I am traveling through
eternity. Only by one small point, like a moving needle
on a disk, do I touch life, and that point is the now,
"A hundred years from now, Joseph Smith will
be considered a great man. That being true, he is great
now, and I want to realize it. Til be dead in a hundred
years. My children or my children's children will say
'If we had only lived in the days of the Prophet Joseph
Smith' — perhaps overlooking the fact that they in
their own time also have a prophet. Well, I live in the
days of this first latter-day prophet. He is my prophet,
and the only one who concerns me very much. All
others I can merely read about; this one I can go to, I
can see his face, grip his hand, hear his voice, and re-
ceive his counsel."
Mrs. Fenton listened attentively. She did not
fully grasp what he was saying, but she had a feeling
that it was true.
"As I have remarked before, Joseph Smith is not so
smooth in words and action as the modern preacher.
His school has been that of rough knocks, though the
Lord has been his teacher. Joseph is like the granite
with the glint of gold shining through. Most preachers
whom I have known have a flow of rhetoric at hand to
veil a confusion of mind; Joseph's expressions may be
faulty, but they convey to us, clear-cut and compre-
hendable, God's eternal truths. Religious teachers of
the day are often like still pools, asleep in the shade;
Joseph is like the ocean — elemental, big, everlasting,
powerful, moving, rough at times, but also smooth and
sunny and peaceful like the whisperings of the Spirit
144 JOHN ST. JOHN
Dora who had been out, now came in, leaving the
door open as she stood Hstening to John's closing words.
A warm breeze with a hint of spring in it reached Mrs.
Fenton, and her throughts easily shifted from that of
prophets to that of spring planting.
"Girls,'' she said, ''begin to pack right away. We
must be off as soon as we can get ready. I must get
home to my garden. "
JOHN ST. JOHN 145
March was true to her fickleness that year. Mild
winds were followed by rain which sometimes turned to
sleet and snow which speedily melted before the warm
sun. When the grass shot out tender and green and the
buds began to swell and burst, Mrs. Fenton could
content herself no longer. Now they would have to
John made no further objections, although he felt
keenly that Dora would not remain with him. He —
well, he was not going to plead. She must choose,
and be left free in that choice. The grain of comfort
left was that Dora had not refused him. "Hope springs
eternal in the human breast," and John vigorously
fanned his spark of hope by calling to mind all sorts
of foolish and unconvincing reasons why she should
go. However, the plain fact of the matter was that
Dora could have remained had she herself simply
willed it. Though the mother was somewhat fearful
of threatened mobs and the talked-of western migra-
tion, yet she would not have refused John his right to
take Dora with him as his wife, had that issue been
At the close of the day before their departure,
John and his mother had a few friends come in to spend
the evening. John thought to ask the Prophet to visit
with them, even if only for a few minutes, but when he
called at the Mansion and learned that Joseph was not
at home, he attempted nothing further.
146 JOHN ST. JOHN
The evening turned out cold and stormy, so a fire in
the grate added cheer to the gathering. When the
lamps were lighted, the company sang, "Now let us
rejoice in the day of salvation,'' and "The Spirit of God
like a fire is burning." Then a Brother Brown, in a
clear, rich voice sang:
"This earth was once a garden place
With all her glories common;
And men did live a holy race.
And worship Jesus face to face,
John explained to Mrs. Fenton that these songs
were composed by W. W. Phelps, and were sung at the
dedication of the Kirtland Temple. The singer was
there at the time, and now he was asked to tell the
company some of his experiences on that eventful
"Yes, I was there,'' said the brother, "and a most
glorious time it was. I helped build that Temple
also, you know. We finished it in the midst of poverty
and the threats of evil men. When I attended the dedi-
cation services I felt the Spirit of God which filled the
house. President Rigdon, in his talk, called our minds
back to the times when these walls had been wet with
our tears, while we, in the silent shades of night, had
prayed to the God of Heaven to protect us in our la-
bors. The Prophet delivered a beautiful dedicatory
"At the closing session. President Smith told us
not to quench the Spirit, but to arise and prophesy good
concerning the Saints. Brother George A. Smith be-
JOHN ST. JOHN 147
gan to prophesy. Immediately there was heard a noise
like the sound of a rushing, mighty wind, which filled
the Temple, and all the congregation arose, being
moved upon by an invisible power. Many spoke in
tongues, and many saw glorious visions. The Prophet
declared that the Temple was filled with angels. The
people of the neighborhood, hearing an unusual sound
within and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire
resting upon the Temple, came running together with
great astonishment. Yes, it was a most glorious time,
one, I expect, which will not be repeated until the
dedication of another temple."
The evening passed pleasantly in reminiscences
and songs. John told some of his own missionary ex-
periences, doing his conscious best in the telling, hoping
that somehow all this might touch Dora's heart and
perhaps her mother's. John had barely concluded when
Dora slipped into the kitchen, and presently she and
Jane came back with trays containing a dainty, de-
licious lunch. The conversation now turned to Mis-
souri experiences, to which Mrs. Fenton was a silent,
When the party broke up and the house was quiet
again, John and Dora found themselves alone. The
south bound boat was due on the morrow, so this was
their last evening together for some time — perhaps for
all time. Deep emotion usually checked John's power
of speech. Dora, too, was silent: that was better than
a talkative indifference.
John went to the window and looked out. The
storm had ceased and the clouds were breaking. He
stood there for some time, and when he felt Dora's
148 JOHN ST. JOHN
presence near him, he was tempted nearly beyond his
power, to turn, seize her in his arms, and hold her for
good; but he only grasped the hand that touched his
own and held it firmly while they stood side by side
looking out into the clearing sky.
"Dora, aren't you coming to bed?" asked Jane
from the doorway.
They turned, with hands apart. "Yes, in a few
moments," replied Dora.
"Mama said we must get a good night's rest to be
ready for tomorrow."
"That's right, Jane," agreed John. "Go with her
Dora — and good night."
"Good night, John."
And that was all there was to an evening which, in
all reason, should have witnessed the exchange of vows,
of loving tokens, of endearing promises, long to be
Mrs. Fenton and the girls were ready in good time
next day. John early had their baggage to the landing.
Shortly after noon all the family followed. Mrs. Fen-
ton did most of the talking, being busy with a sort of
onesided planning of what they all should do. The
boat delayed its coming; but as the weather was now
warm and pleasant, the waiting was not uncomfortable.
"How belated are these boats, usually?" inquired
"All the way from an hour to a week," answered
John, "depending, of course, on the state of the weather,
the number of stops the boat must make, and the con-
dition of the officers and the crew — not mentioning
that of the boat itself."
JOHN ST. JOHN 149
"Dear me! We may not get away until tomorrow."
"Perhaps not — I hope not," laughed John.
"Well, we'll camp right here until it comes, if it's
"I don't think you will have to wait that long —
there's the smoke now, see, up the river."
A few other passengers now arrived, and some men
were busy with a shipment of freight. In the dusk of
the evening, the boat lay slowly up to the landing and
made fast. There being little freight and few passen-
gers to embark, the boat was soon ready to leave. John
hurried the baggage on board, then came back to where
his mother was bidding her guests goodbye. He duti-
fully kissed Mrs. Fenton, then turned and looked into
Dora's shining eyes. Just for a moment he held her in
his arms while his lips touched hers. Then, at the
mother's call, they hurried on board.
Where was Jane? he had nearly forgotten her.
yShe was already on the boat, sitting forward on a box.
• "Jane," John shouted. "I didn't say goodbye to
"No!" She sat with her head bowed. John sprang
on to the boat and ran to the girl who arose to meet
him. She stood there now nearly as tall as her sister —
and a vision of loveliness forlorn. Tears were in her
eyes and her lips quivered. Her hat was off, and it
seemed to John that some lingering rays of the
day's departing light had taken refuge in her curls.
How foolish of him to have nearly forgotten Jane!
"Goodby, Jane," he said as he drew her close and
kissed her. "Be a good girl — as you are — as you have
150 JOHN ST. JOHN
"John," she stammered, "I— I want to tell you
something— something I haven't told you before— is
"Yes, there's a minute; what is it?"
"I don't want to leave — and, John, I believe —
Oh, I beUeve," she sobbed.
"All that you have told us— the gospel, John—
I believe it all. I want to stay with — with — the Saints,
"Fm glad to hear you say that; but you must go
with your mother; that's your duty now. And my
dear girl, there are trials and hardships ahead of me.
Go back to your sheltered home."
"I can stand the trials. I can, for don't you see,
John was amazed at the girl's fervent declaration.
He looked into the beautiful face, now shining with the
light of a divine confession. He glanced quickly about
to see that the gang-plank had not yet been removed,
then back to the girl.
"Jane," he said gently, "to believe is not enough.
One must know in order to stand what I fear is coming."
"But I do— I—"
"Go with your sister and take care of her. She
needs someone. I wish I could go, but I cannot. You,
Jane, with your faith, take my place. Do this for me,
won't you, Jane?"
Mutely, she nodded.
Then he kissed her again, and sprang lightly to the
landing as the boat was ready to leave. From the slowly
receding deck three white handkerchiefs waved fare-
well as long as they could be seen in the darkening night.
JOHN ST. JOHN 151
John and his mother went slowly back home.
Darkness fell over town and river, and the lights of the
departing boat could be seen creeping down stream.
From the doorway of his house, John gazed at it until
it was lost to view.
The mother, busying herself about the supper
table, now urged him to come and eat; but instead, he
went to the lounge by the window, sat despondently
down, and mutely shook his head at the invitation.
His spirit which he had for the past few days kept so
well in hand, now seemed to break; and his soul seemed
to be crushed under the weight of his bitter disappoint-
ment. Struggle as he would, the tears wet his hands
into which he had bowed his face.
The mother went to him, and when he felt her
hand on his head, he clasped her passionately, hiding
his head as if for shame in her bosom.
"It's all right, my boy,*' she said tenderly, "cry
away, and don't hold the tears back. Only your mother
will know, and she understands."
And so John St. John, the man, wept as a child in
his mother's arms, which, she knew, was the best thing
he could do to get heart relief. Then, after a time,
when he had become quiet, she talked :
r "I Jcnow it is hard to part with her; but John, if
I Dora could not be brought to see the truth of the gos-
i pel, she never would do for your wife." . .
^ "Yes, mother, I know that full well; but that
152 JOHN ST. JOHN
doesn't make it any easier. 0, mother, she is so good
in every way — so gentle and so sweet! Then why,
"If you have to sacrifice for the gospel's sake, re-
member what the Lord has promised — a hundred fold
of what you have given, and then life everlasting."
"But, mother, what would life everlasting be to
me without herl What would a hundred wives be, if
that were possible, without the one I want and love
beyond my power to tell. WithoJt her, the world is
void and all else is without-^af3&>i.Mother, why is it
that I have been permitted to thus fix my heart on
someone that I cannot get? Why should one little per-
son among all the world's millions be the standard by
which my happiness must be measured? Mother, I
The mother took his hand and held it for a time
as if she were afraid her son would leave her. Then
with the pain in her voice unhidden she said: "Right
now it seems to you that all is lost; but after a time you
will realize that you have yet something to live for, and
that you have many blessings, now hidden behind your
cloud of sorrow. Try — try to trust the Lord."
John looked up into his mother's face, and there
saw the marks of suffering. "Mother, forgive me," he
begged. "I ought to be ashamed of myself. I have the
best mother living. I have you — I have always, always
had you." He took her into his arms and kissed her
"You have more, much more than your mother,"
she went on. "You have your Father in Heaven. You,
John, are a King and a Priest unto God — and you
JOHN ST. JOHN 153
know that. You have right to commune with the
Heavens and to Him who rules therein."
"You have the Holy Priesthood, a power for
righteousness which the world knows nothing about.
If it is God's will that Dora Fenton shall be your wife,
that will come to pass, if you do your part. But if she
is not to be, then again God is able and willing to com-
pensate you for the apparent loss. I say apparent, for
there can be no real loss in accepting gratefully that
which the Lord has planned to give us as a reward
for faithfulness. He sees from the beginning to the
end; we see very poorly and only a short distance. So
I say again, John, trust in the Lord."
Thus for an hour or more mother and son talked
with each other regarding that which lay closest to
their hearts. Then John urged his mother to go to bed
and get her needed rest.
"And you, John?"
"I want to go out for a walk. Til not be long.
Now, don't you worry any more. Vm all right, thanks
to you, my dear mother." He kissed her again as he
As he walked down the street, he bared his head
to the night air. He would go to the river. Somehow,
there was comfort and rest in sitting on its bank and
looking at the great stream making its irresistible way
to the sea.
The night was late enough for most of the lights
in the city to be out. However, the sky was clear, and
John knew every part of the river bank well. He left
the street and made his way along a path which led
154 JOHN ST. JOHN
into a grove of trees in which the underbrush had not
been cleared. He knew of a small clearing near the river
where he could be alone.
A short distance along this path, he met two men.
They stopped, looked into his face, and recognized
"Is it you, Brother John? What are you doing?"
"Just out for a walk. What are you doing?"
"We are now on the police force. There are a
good many suspicious characters in the city, and we
are on the lookout for mischievous plots. Well, good
John went on. He thought no more of what the
policemen had said, but made his way to the secluded
spot by the bank of the river, and sat down on a stump.
He looked out on the water, thinking of the past day
and what it had brought to him.
Presently, he heard the dip of oars from the river,
and then he saw a boat drawing near. There was no
landing at that point, and he wondered what might
be doing. Then, not far away from under the river
bank, which was high enough to hide a person, he
heard a subdued call which the men in the boat an-
swered. Carefully, the boat drew near the shore where
it was lost to John's sight.
In a few minutes he heard men talking. They
drew nearer but stopped just as he thought he was dis-
covered. John surmised no evil; he was merely an-
noyed that his privacy should thus be disturbed. He
was about to get up again and go on, when some words
reached him which made him pause. The men were
hidden, but he could now hear quite distinctly what
JOHN ST. JOHN 155
they said. There seemed to be quite a company — a
dozen or more. He listened intently. Could he be-
lieve his ears? Why, these men were plotting to de-
stroy the Prophet Joseph and others of the leading
John seemed rooted to the spot. Not wishing to
be discovered, he crouched low. Now there came to
him as a flash what Joseph had said only last Sunday,
that there was a conspiracy on foot to take his life.
The Prophet even named some of those who were en-
gaged in it, and they were or had been some of the
most prominent men in the Church — the Laws, the
Higbees, Dr. Foster, and Mr. Jackson. John knew
some of them, but he could not identify any of them by
the voices he now heard.
One of the men who seemingly had come to the
rendezvous by boat, claimed to be an officer from
Missouri. He presented a plan by which Joseph, at
least, could be taken off their hands — for once safely
into Missouri, he would assure them that the Mormon
Prophet would never get back to Nauvoo. His plans,
however, met with little favor; the kidnapping scheme
had been tried before without results. No; something
more definite would have to be resorted to to put the
tjrrant out of the way. "What? How?" a number of
"We must organize," said one, "and get as many
as possible to join us. There are a lot of dissatisfied
people in Nauvoo. They must be won over. Each of
us who five here can do our share in this."
As John listened his heart beat nearly to bursting.
Forgotten were all his own troubles, swallowed up as
156 JOHN ST. JOHN
they were in this frightful danger which threatened the
beloved President of the Church. But what could he
do? One thing he began to realize — that he was a spy,
even though an unwilling one. He must not be dis-
covered by these plotters; men who were eager to do
the wicked deeds they were planning, would think
nothing of killing him!
All the conspirators agreed that the Prophet must
die, but there were so many methods proposed that no
unity of procedure was arrived at. The discussion, at
times, became quite animated, and some of the louder
ones had to be quieted.
For what seemed a long time John lay without
moving. The party was about to break up, much to
John's relief, when some one reminded the rest that a
new member had joined them that evening. He had
better take the oath.
Yes, certainly, all must take the oath.
John could not see, but what he heard seemed to
curdle his blood;
"Yow solemnly swear,'* said a voice slowly and
distinctly, * 'before God and all holy angels and these your
brethren with whom you are surrounded that you wiU
give your life, your liberty, your influence, your all for
the destruction of Joseph Smith and his party, so hdp
"I do," came in a somewhat faltering tone. Evi-
dently, this person did not relish the ceremony.
As they were separating, the final announcement
was made again: "Don't forget. A week from tonight
at Brother Law's."
John now thought to get away; but as he was
JOHN ST. JOHN 157
crawling across the open, two of the men came along
and nearly stumbled over him. Startled, they rapidly
pulled out their pistols, and with oaths demanded to
know what was there.
John arose and stood before them.
"A spy, a damned spy!" they exclaimed. "Halloo,
men, here's a spy," they shouted. "Come back."
"I am not a spy," protested John.
The men gathered again hurriedly. "What is it?
Who is it? Why it's John St. John," said one.
The young man looked into the faces of his captors,
and his worst fears were realized. Two men whom he
had always thought of as brethren, and who had been
close associates of the Prophet, were among them. Nor
were they at all abashed at being discovered in such
company, as they pressed forward and peered into
"What are you doing here, if you are not a spy?"
"I was just taking a little walk," John tried to
explain. "I often come here."
"At this time of the night? How long have you
been listening. "
"What have you heard?"
John did not reply immediately.
"He has certainly heard too much," declared one.
There was much flourishing of knives and pistols.
"What have you heard?" again was demanded.
"Brethren — gentlemen," said John, "I cannot
repeat to you what I have heard. I was just resting
here when you came up. What I have heard is quite
fragmentary and indistinct."
158 JOHN ST. JOHN
"But you got the gist of what we are doing?"
"Yes— I think so."
"Then" — with an oath — "you'll have to join us.
The easiest and quickest way for you out of this is for
you to take the oath and become one with us."
"Oh, I couldn't do that!"
"Either that or die right here and now. Is not
that so, gentlemen?" appealed the spokesman to his
"It is — sure — certainly!"
"Do you think we'll let you go back to Joseph
Smith and tell him all you have heard! Not by a
John stood there in the dim light of the stars, sur-
rounded by these men. What could he do, what could
he say? How could he answer their questions? To
take their oath and to become one of them — that he
could not do; but then they would kill him. In self-
protection, they could not let him go. Well, was this
the end— end of his life, and all his hopes? What would
become of his mother — and Dora — well — "
One of the men who had been prominent in the
Church now pushed his way closely to John. "Listen
to me. Brother St. John," he said. "Joseph is a fallen
prophet, and if his wicked career is not checked, he will
lead the Church to destruction. That's the reason we
are planning as we are. It's for the best good of the
Church, or we would not be doing this."
John did not reply.
"Yes," added another, "Joseph is fallen. He
receives revelations from the devil, and he is deceiving
the people. He is a wicked man."
JOHN ST. JOHN 159
"But, friends," suggested John, "if Joseph Smith
is such a person, why not let the law handle him."
"We can do nothing with him by the law. He
always evades. Besides, the law is slow. We must
have something swifter and surer. The Church will
have been destroyed before the law can reach him.
We must act. Come, join us and share with us the
honor in such a worthy undertaking. Take the oath
"I— I don't think I can do that."
"You'll have to. We cannot let you go. You
know too much."
"Dead men tell no tales," came from someone at
The men closed in on him. Then a number were
detailed to guard the prisoner, while the rest withdrew
a short distance to discuss further plans of action. John
could not hear what was being said, but he was made
aware of the presence of his guards by their guns being
poked into his sides. They would surely kill him:
they were perhaps discussing the manner of his taking
off. Would they leave his body in the brush or would
they throw it into the river. Would his mother ever
know. As for Dora, perhaps she would not care.
The time dragged, and the guards became im-
patient. There seemed to be a difference of opinion
among the conspirators. It was surely past midnight.
The city was very quiet. John shivered with cold.
Then he thought of that moonlight night in Missouri
when Henry Freland's dead face was turned so peace-
fully up to the sky. Would he be like that?
The conference now seemed to break up and some
160 JOHN ST. JOHN
of the men left. Those who remained said that they
had been appointed a committee to dispose of their
prisoner in case he still refused to do what they re-
quired. These again pleaded with him and then
threatened, but without avail. They then took him
down to the river bank.
When John came in sight of the water, he wondered
in a confused way how far Dora was down the river.
His mind persisted on this speculation, and he had
difficulty in bringing his thoughts to bear on that
which vitally concerned him at that moment — how to
escape. There seemed no possible way out for him,
and so why not let his mind travel in that enticing
channel after Dora, Mrs. Fenton, and Jane — Jane, the
little girl who had so suddenly grown up and who had
clung to him so closely in their parting only a few hours
ago. In a moment of time, he followed them on their
long journey. He saw them arrive at Belford, drive
out past Moston to their own home on the other side
of the creek which was spanned by the rustic bridge.
He even saw plainly the carved initials on the hand-
rail of the bridge; and the vision of a beautiful girl in a
white dress trimmed with blue, stood before him! ....
"Come, now, for the last time, what shall it be?"
broke in a rough voice. "We cannot remain here
longer. We must do our duty while it is dark."
John gathered himself together with an effort.
"Men," he began, "I admit freely that I do not know
just what to do, but this I know that the Lord is a
Great Helper. If, as you say, you are in the Lord's
service and are doing His will in this matter. He will
John st. johN 161
also make plain to me my duty. Be patient with me a
moment longer while I ask Him."
The young prisoner stood out in the open with
bared, bowed head; the men drew back into the deeper
shadow, watching, waiting. A night wind whistled
softly through the trees.
John prayed for help in this his hour of need. His
lips barely moved, yet his heart went out to God. And
then there came to him, more as a deep undercurrent
of feeling than of thought that he was a King and a
Priest — "I want every man who goes to be a King and
a Priest; he may want to talk with his God." — The
supplicant was not yet on the mountains, but surely
God could be reached in such hour of need in the valley
as well. "Lord, deliver me from the hands of these
wicked men" — and then, as with an inspiration, swift
as light, he went on — "not only for my own sake, but
that I might warn thy servant the Prophet of his
When the men again drew close and called, "Timers
up," John was calm and assured. Whether this in-
dicated an easy, painless death or a deliverance, he
could not decide; but he was at peace, and his thoughts
were clear as he faced his captors, and said :
"Listen once more to me. As I was coming here
this evening, I met two of the new city policemen.
They knew me, stopped and spoke to me. I learned
from some of your conversation that a number of you
men also had a meeting with these policemen. Knowing
me, and presumably, knowing you, they had no sus-
picions that we were up to any mischief at this uncom-
mon time and place. Now, you men, tell me what you
162 JOHN ST. JOHi^
will have to say when I am found missing in the
"Nothing can be proved on us. We'll take care
"Many of you men are already under surveillance,"
continued John, in a clear, firm voice. "It will be
rather awkward for you to explain my disappearance.
I was last seen here near to you men. My friends of the
Legion will want an accounting from you— from you,
remember, and you, as you are well known in this
community." The speaker pointed directly at them.
"Now go ahead with your murdering!"
One of the men drew his knife, muttering curses
and declarations that he was not known, and he was not
afraid; but he was restrained by others of the party.
They were evidently considering what John had said.
Just then in the clear stillness of the night, there
came a call from up the street:
It was the voice of his mother, calling to him, as
she had done many times, when as a boy he had ling-
ered into the night down by the creek or in the meadow.
"John— Oh, John!"
The voice was nearer. She no doubt had seen
John walking toward the river, and she was seeking
him. The men became nervous. If she came that way,
they would have to move on; but where? Fear seized
some of the men, who realized the force of John's
statements. They were in no mood to be sacrificed for
the cause in which they were engaged.
The mother's voice rang out again.
And the Lord used that voice to save John St.
JOHN ST. JOHN 163
John. It was not a loud, shrill voice, but it pierced the
hearts of the wicked to the quick.
"Come on, let us go," said one, as they were about
to retreat; but another, fearful of the greater danger
involved in releasing their captive, shook his fist in
John's face, and with an oath warned him that if he
ever breathed a word of what he had seen and heard
that night, he would be shot at sight. With this ad-
monition, agreed to by all the others, they withdrew,
and John was left alone.
John stood still, dazed somewhat by this sudden
release from danger. Then with heart full of gratitude
to his Heavenly Father for this miraculous escape, he
sped swiftly along the path into the road, where he saw
his mother coming slowly toward him.
"Mother," he called, "Fm coming."
He took her in his arms. "You are trembling,
mother. There, now, I am safe, thank God!"
"My boy, my boy, where have you been? You
also are trembling."
"I have been in great danger — but I am safe now,
saved by the Lord and by you! Come, we must go
home. You are cold."
He took her gently back on the homeward road.
She clung to him. "Why did you stay out so late? I
went to bed, but couldn't sleep. Something drove me
out to seek you. Oh, John!"
"There now, mother. Fll tell you about it to-
morrow — perhaps. Now you must go to bed — and I,
too, for I am dead tired."
As they reached their gate and walked up the path
to the house the early cocks were crowing and the east-
em sky was brightening with the coming day.
i64 JOHN ST. JOHN
John and his mother slept for a few hours that
morning. Towards noon, he went to the store, but
soon returned. He could not get his mind on any-
thing, save that which had happened to him the
night before. His mother was up preparing something
to eat. She saw his restlessness and concern.
"Tell me what happened. May I not know?"
"Yes, I will," he replied decisively. I have been
debating with myself whether or not to tell anybody,
but I cannot hold it back from you." He drew her
her down on the window seat near him; and here in
the warm sunlight, screened somewhat by the cur-
tains, he told his story. When it was finished, he felt
better, and the mother, with arms about him whis-
"Thank God, you are here safe with me."
"Yes, mother, the Lord was with me. I am sure I
was saved that I may warn Brother Joseph."
"But their threats!"
"I am not afraid. I promised them nothing. I
must find the Prophet right away."
"Wait until tonight. These men are surely watch-
ing you. There can be no immediate danger to the
Prophet, for it seems that their plans are not fully
"Perhaps you are right. There can no harm come
from being careful."
JOHN ST. JOHN 165
"Fll take a little walk this afternoon and drop in
at the Mansion and learn if Brother Joseph is at
home. You know he is a busy man, and is in and out of
*'What would I do without you, mother. You
saved me last night. I am sure of that."
"I? What do you mean?"
"Your calling me in the night seemed to turn my
captor's wavering minds in my favor. I don't know
whether it was the mother-voice which touched a spot
in their hearts not yet hardened, or whether they were
afraid; but your coming, I am sure, saved me."
"Now I know the Lord answered my prayer,"
said the mother. "I went to bed as you suggested, for
I was tired. About eleven o'clock I awoke. I looked
into your room, but you were not there. For some time
I waited, but as you did not come, I dressed and went
out. It was passed midnight then. I called softly,
but there was no response. Again I waited, and fear
crept into my heart. You had never before remained
away so late without letting me know where you were
going. I walked timidly down the road, then back
again, with a prayer in my heart all the time. How
long I did this, I cannot tell. Then at last I boldly
ventured into the night again, this time calling you
aloud, and it was not long before you came to me."
Mother and son clung affectionately to each other.
They lingered for some time over a simple luncheon,
then the mother dressed and went out.
John remained quietly at home. Then he tried
to work in the garden, but with little success. He mu^t
g'et into seclusion and think withrout interruption. He
166 JOHN ST. JOHN
wondered more and more at what he had discovered
regarding conditions in the Church at Nauvoo. Joseph
had declared: "We have a Judas in our midst, "—and
here were many of them. How could men who had
tasted of the heavenly light of truth drop so deeply
into the dark!"
Mrs. St. John returned within an hour. The
Prophet, she had found, was not at home; but Emma
would tell him that John wished to see him. And
Joseph would use discretion in his calls. So John and
his mother contented themselves by remaining quietly
in the house all the afternoon.
In the dusk of the evening Joseph and his brother
Hyrum called. This was not the first time the home had
been honored with the presence of the Prophet and the
Patriarch, and always their visits were received as a
special blessing. The love for the Patriarch was no
less than that for the Prophet. While Joseph was the
President of the Church and the mouthpiece of God to
the Church, Hyrum also was a man of devotion, of kind-
ness and peace, full of love and charity. And these two
men were deeply attached to each other, for together
they worked in a common cause. They had shared
much joy as well as sorrow. Together they had suffered
by the drivings of mobs, and in chains in prison. John
and his mother could not know that in a few more days
only, these two brothers would also go together to
John told his story to his visitors, and he was
listened to without interruption. They did not seem
surprised, for there was nothing new or unusually
startling in this disclosure. They told him they knew
JOHN ST. JOHN 167
of the plottings of these men. However, they thanked
him for what he had told them and blessed him for his
courage and devotion. He was promised that he would
not be harmed, for these men would not have power to
injure him. With this assurance, they left as quietly
as they had come.
John and his mother were greatly comforted, and
they went about their daily duties, much as before.
A few days after John's night adventure, the April
conference of the Church was held. The weather was
beautiful, and many people came from the surrounding
country. Mrs. St. John attended all the meetings, but
John could not get away from his work until Sunday.
However, his mother gave him a synopsis of the dis-
courses preached by Joseph and Hyrum. Sidney Rig-
don occupied part of the time on Friday, Saturday,and
Sunday in a continued discourse on the history of the
Church. At two o'clock Sunday afternoon, the Patri-
arch spoke on one of his favorite themes, — the com-
pletion of the Temple. At three-thirty President
Smith began a discourse, it being the funeral sermon
of Elder King Follett who had been accidentally killed
about a month before.
John sat with his mother among the great throng
which listened to that wonderful discourse. He was in
a receptive mood that afternoon, and he drank in the
marvelous truths as they fell from the lips of the Proph-
et. Some of the most impressive expressions which
John treasured up in his heart were:
"I want to ask this congregation to answer this
question in their own hearts, what kind of a being God
is? Ask yourselves; turn your thoughts into your
168 JOHN ST. JOHN
hearts, and say if any of you have seen, heard, or com-
muned with Him. This is a question that may occupy
your attention for a long time The scriptures
inform us that This is Hfe eternal, that they might
know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom
thou hast sent'
"I will go back to the beginning before the world
was to show what kind of being God is. What kind of
being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and
hear. Oh, ye ends of the earth
"God himself was once as we are now, and is an
exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!
That is the great secret. If the veil was rent today, and
the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who
upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to
make Himself visible, — I say, if you were to see Him
today, you would see Him like a man in form — like
yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as
a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image,
and likeness of God, and received instructions from
Him, and walked, talked, and conversed with Him, as
one man talks and communes with another
"These are incomprehensible ideas to some; but
they are simple. It is the first principle of the gospel
to know for a certainty the character of God, and to
know that we may converse with Him as one man con-
verses with another, and that He was once a man like
us: yea, that God Himself, the Father of us all, dwelt
on an earth the same as Jesus Christ Himself did
"Here, then, is eternal life — to know the only wise
and true God; and you bg.ve got to learn how to be
Gdds yolxi'MVes, and to tfe \drtgs arid prfefets tb G^,
JOHN ST. JOHN 169
the same as all Gods have done before you, — namely, by
going from one small degree to another, and from a
small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from
exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resur-
rection from the dead, and are able to dwell in ever-
lasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who
sit enthroned in everlasting power
"These are the first principles of consolation. How
consoling to the mourners when they are called to part
with a husband, wife, father, mother, child or dear
relative, to know that, although the earthly tabernacle
is laid down and dissolved, they shall rise again to dwell
in everlasting burnings in immortal glory, not to sorrow,
suffer or die any more; but they shall be heirs of God and
joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit
the same power, the same glory, and the same exalta-
tion, until you arrive at the station of a God and ascend
the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have
gone before. What did Jesus do? Why, I do the things
I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into
existence. My Father worked out His kingdom with
fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when
I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father, so
that He may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will
exalt Him in glory. He will then take a higher exalta-
tion, and I will take His place, and thereby become ex-
alted myself. So that Jesus treads in the tracks of his
Father and inherits what God did before; and God is
thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exalta-
tion of all His children. It is plain beyond disputation,
and you thus learn some of the first principles of the
170 JOHN ST. JOHN
The vast audience sat entranced under the spell
of the voice of the Prophet. The flood of light on the
nature of God and man seemed to lift John St. John
from earth life to one of a heavenly order. As he watch-
ed the glow of inspiration on the face of the speaker,
he could not help but contrast that appearance with
the murderous hatred which showed in the faces of
Joseph's enemies. The speaker went on:
"The first principles of man are self-existent with
God. God himself, finding He was in the midst of
spirits and glory, because He was more intelligent, saw
proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a
privilege to advance like Hi:aself. The relationship
we have with God places us in a situation to advance
in knowledge. He has power to institute lav/s to in-
struct the weaker intelligences that they may be ex-
alted with Himself, so that they might have one glory
upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory,
and intelligence which is requisite in order to save them
in the world of spirits.
"This is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can
taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. They
are given to me by the revelations of Jesus Christ, and
I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life
as they are given to me, you taste them, and I know
that you believe them." ("Amen*' said John in his
"What promises are made in relation to the sub-
ject of salvation of the dead? What kind of characters
are those who can be saved although their bodies are
mouldering and decaying in the grave. When His com-
mandments teach us, it is in view of eternity; for we
JOHN ST. JOHN 171
are looked upon by God as though we were in eternity.
God dwells in eternity, and does not view things as
"I have a declaration to make as to the provisions
which God hath made to suit the conditions of men —
made from before the foundation of the world. What
has Jesus said? All sins, and all blasphemies, and every
transgression, except one, that man can be guilty of,
may be forgiven; and there is a salvation for all men,
either in this world or the world to come, who have not
committed the unpardonable sin, there being a pro-
vision either in this world or the world of spirits. Hence
God hath made a provision that every spirit in the
eternal world can be ferreted out and saved, unless he
has committed that unpardonable sin which cannot be
remitted to him either in this world or the world of
spirits. God has wrought out a salvation for all men,
unless they have committed a certain sin; and every
man who has a friend in the eternal world can save him,
unless he has committed the unpardonable sin."
John's thoughts went to his father who had gone
into the world of spirits unconverted. Surely, there
was yet hope for him.
M rejoice in hearing the testimony of my aged
friends," the Prophet concluded. "You don't know me.
You never knew my heart. No man knows my history.
I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don't
blame anyone for not believing my history. If I had
not experienced what I have, I could not have believed
it myself. I never did harm any man since I was bom
in the world. My voice is always for peace.
"I cannot lie down until all my work is finished.
172 JOHN ST. JOHN
I never think any evil, nor do anything to the harm of
my fellow-men. When I am called by the trump of the
arch-angel and weighed in the balance, you will all
know me then. I add no more. God bless you all!
f^>^ Mother and son passed slowly out with the moving
crowd. Some lingered to discuss what they had heard,
but not so with John and his mother; to them these
things seemed too sacred to talk about except in solemn,
quiet, sacred places. As they walked homeward, the
soft air of spring from the river blew into their faces.
John's peach trees were in full bloom, and he noted
that he would have to get busy in his garden.
As they entered the house and put away coats and
wraps they instinctively went to the "cosy corner"
which already had become a spot sacred to Godly
themes. They sat silently for a few moments, then the
"Was it not wonderful!"
"I am trying to realize fully that we are living
within sight and hearing of a living prophet of God,"
added John reverently.
"I am trying to be grateful for that."
"Is Joseph a fallen prophet? When I think of
what those men told me, and when I compare their
spirit with that which flowed from Joseph this after-
noon as a stream of light, then I can see how wickedly
false are their accusations. Mother, had I never known
that Joseph Smith is an inspired teacher, I can never
deny that knowledge now."
"You are right. The truth 'tastes good,' as Joseph
JOHN ST. JOHN 173
"Think of what we have just heard! For ages
men have been trying to find out God. Having had no
light but their own learning, they have groped in the
dark, and instead of finding God, they have departed
further from Him. The purpose of the universe has
been a riddle, and no man has been able to solve it.
And now here, to us, a poor, despised people, the cur-
tain has been lifted, and we have been shown the
transcendent truth. Why, mother, when these things
are published, they will set the world afire!"
The mother smiled at his enthusiasm. "It would
seem so," she said; "but the world hasn't been very
much moved by other truths which have been given
by the Prophet."
"That's true; but why I cannot quite understand."
"The things of God are understood only by the
Spirit of God; and that is obtained only by obedience
to the gospel."
"Yes All during the meeting I wished Dora
were with us in hopes that she would be impressed.
But my hopes were guided by my heart, I suppose."
"Dora, the same as all of us have been, must be
born again before she can see the kingdom."
"The kingdom! Oh, mother, how it opens
to us! 'God Himself was once as we are now.* That sings
and sings in my heart. 'God Himself, the Father of us
ally dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ didV God,
then, is a man, now a glorified being, but still a MAN;
and Jesus Christ the Son of God is, therefore, the Son
of Man. We also are children of God and brothers of
Jesus Christ. Jesus did what He saw His Father do,
and we are admonished to follow in the footsteps of
174 JOHN ST. JOHN
Jesus God has won His way up through the
worlds by conquering all forces, both good and evil,
adding knowledge to knowledge, power to power, and
glory to glory until He has reached His present ex-
alted state. Jesus has been following the Father along
the same celestial pathway, and now it is our privilege
to do the same Yes; I can see the Savior's
mission plainer now. The Father is so far ahead of us,
has attained to such an incomprehensible degree of
glory and exaltation that there must needs be an inter-
mediate and a way-leader nearer to our human plane,
and that Mediator, Leader, Lord, is Jesus Christ. He
represents the Father. We come to the Father by Him.
We must go in the way He has pointed out, and follow
in His steps."
"Why, John, we are not only of the royal English
line, but we are in the lineage of the Gods!" added the
"We are not really * worms of the dust,' only so
far as we degrade our heavenly birthright. We are gods
in embryo; and although we may yet be a long way down
the scale, still, eternity is before us and the heights are
there for us to climb. Mother, I am lost in the con-
templation of these things."
The day merged into twilight. John pushed up
the blind, and they sat for some time silently in the
pale light. The mother now offered to prepare supper,
but John detained her.
"Do you remember the questions I used to ask you
about time and space?" he went on. "I used to imagine
a straight line from the earth to the sun, then on to
j6hn ST. JOHN 175
some star, then on, on into the depths of space to the
end — then what? There would have to be something
on the other side of the end, which means, of course,
that there is no end. There I was lost and had to come
back home. Then as to time : there always was a yester-
day, and there always will be a tomorrow — ^using earth-
ly figures to express the idea — consequently, there can
be no limits either way to time; and so again I was lost
and would have to come back to the present. The
Prophet's remarks this afternoon have set my mind
going again. As time, space, element, and intelligence
are eternal, so also must be the race of Gods. If the
Great Eternal is a Father, He first must have been a
Son; that Son must also have had a Father — which
line of reasoning only pushes the query one step further
back, and where can we stop? Nowhere. We are lost,
and again we must come back home.*'
"All right, John. Now let us stay here. Aren't
*'Just a moment more, mother. You see, I want
to talk about these things now while they are new to
fix them in my mind. Some day I hope to tell my
children about them. — This other thought I wish to
express: Jesus lived here on this earth. He was hungry,
tired, tempted, and suffered in every way as we suffer.
When our Heavenly Father passed through His earthly
probation. He also must have tasted of the ills of
mortality. With the knowledge thus obtained still
abiding with Them, these Two can feel for us, plan for
us, and help us. They have gone before and They
know the way. Mother, what sweet assurance that is
to us who are trying in a weak way to follow!"
176 JOHN ST. JOHN
That night, before retiring, mother and son sang a
hymn, and then said their prayers together. When
John kissed his mother goodnight, he held her face be-
tween his hands, and, looking into her eyes, said :
"Mother, dear, never more ought I to complain.
Have I not the gospel — and you?''
JOHN ST. JOHN 177
In due time Mrs. Fenton, Dora, and Jane arrived
safely home again. Dora informed John of this in a
brief note, followed two weeks later by a long letter.
John scanned this letter carefully to see what of hope
or comfort he could get from it. Then he handed it to
"Tell me what you make of it?'* he asked.
"She wants you to come back to Belford."
"Do you think she means that? She doesn't say so."
"Only between the lines, where many letters
say the most."
As John read his letter again, he agreed with his
mother. Dora told him that they were about to sell
their country home and to move into Belford. Of
course, there was much more life in town, and Jane was
to go to the high school. It was with a sad heart that
the writer contemplated saying farewell to their beautiful
home. Frequently she wandered disconsolately about
the grounds, her steps naturally leading her down the
path to the creek. She usually stopped on the bridge.
(And John stopped with her: he saw splashing water
and heard the low, sweet piping of a bird from the
bushes). "One day," the letter ran, "just as I was going
to move on, a young man suddenly turned the bend and
came on to the bridge. He paused, he stopped, he
begged my pardon, for he evidently saw the distress
in my face. He spoke very kindly to me, and was very
nice. He was the new occupant of Moston." John
178 JOHN ST. JOHN
smiled at the writer's subtle attempts to make him
Dora's letter was answered at length and in full,
as John usually did. Then he honestly tried not to let
thoughts of her worry him. He was aided in this re-
solve by what was happening in Nauvoo, which largely
occupied his thoughts and attention. The plots against
the Prophet and the leading men, of which John had
such first-hand knowledge, daily became more manifest.
Wicked apostates showed their hatred more openly.
Those living in Nauvoo conspired with the enemies of
the Church in surrounding towns, and the spirit of
mobocracy again became rampant.
One day at the store a number of men were railing
against what they called the unjust domineering of the
Prophet. John hardly ever took part in public discus-
sions of such topics, but on this occasion he was led to
ask one of Joseph's accusers if he had ever read the
Prophet's views on Priesthood domination. On re-
ceiving a negative reply, John took down from a
shelf a copy of the Times and Seasons, from which
"The rights of the Priesthood are inseparably
connected with the powers of heaven and the
powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled
only upon the principles of righteousness. That they
may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we under-
take to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain
ambition, or to exercise control, or dominion, or com-
pulsion, upon the souls of the children of men, in any
degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens with-
draw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and
JOHN ST. JOHN 179
when it is withdrawn, Amen to the Priesthood, or the
authority of that man We have learned by sad
experience, that it is the nature and disposition of almost
all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they
suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise un-
Some of the bystanders grunted an assent to this.
"Just a moment, friends," said John, "Let me
read a little further: *No power or influence can or
ought to be maintained by virtue of the Priesthood,
only by persuasion, by long suffering, by gentleness,
and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and
pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul
without hypocrisy, and without guile, reproving betimes
with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost,
and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love
towards him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem
thee to be his enemy; that he may know that thy faith-
fulness is stronger than the cords of death; let thy bowels
also be full of charity towards all men, and to the house-
hold of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts un-
ceasingly, then shall thy confidence wax strong in the
presence of God, and the doctrine of the Priesthood
shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and
thy sceptre an unchanging sceptre of righteousness
and truth, and thy dominion shall be an everlasting
dominion, and without compulsory means it shall
flow unto thee for ever and ever.' "
"Men and brethren," commented John, "that's
the doctrine of Joseph Smith. No man, having in his
heart to tyrannize over his fellows, would be foolish
180 JOHN ST. JOHN
enough to teach such principles." John looked straight
into the men's faces. "Do you men beheve that
doctrine?" he asked. "Do you practice it? Some of
you claim to hold the Priesthood. Before God, you
will be held accountable, if you use it in any other way
than here enumerated, *by persuasion, by long suffer-
ing, by gentleness, and meekness, and by love un-
feigned!' Again, I know, as well as some of you know,
that Joseph measures fully up to his own doctrine. Let
his enemies say what they will, let them do what they
can, even to the taking of his life, I know the power of
the Priesthood is with him. The pure in heart who
know him best love him most, and testify of his
John surprised his friends as well as himself by his
defensive attitude, but he felt good about it, neverthe-
less; and as he walked home that evening he thought of
the serious condition the city was getting into. Men
who had stood high in the Church and the community
had been excommunicated and were now bitterly
fighting the Church. They openly advocated the re-
pealing of the city's charter because, they claimed, the
city authorities, with Joseph at their head as mayor,
were tyrannical and unjust. These agitators now
announced that they would publish a paper in Nauvoo
to further their cause.
The first number of the Nauvoo Expositor was
issued June 7, 1844. It scandalously attacked many of
the most respectable citizens of Nauvoo. What could
be done about it? The problem was fully discussed by
the city council. To suppress the nasty sheet would be
construed as an attack upon the inalienable American
JOHN ST. JOHN 181
right of free speech. To permit it to publish its false-
hoods would in a short time arouse the country to
such an extent that the mobocratic scenes of Missouri
would be reenacted. The city council chose the lesser
of two evils, as they thought: they passed an ordinance
declaring the Nauvoo Expositor to be a nuisance, and
directed the city marshall to destroy the press.
This was done. Naturally, the hatred of the con-
spirators became intense. In their desperation, some
of them set fire to their own houses, then they fled to
Carthage, the county seat, with terrible tales of what
the Mormons were doing. Their lying stories spread
like wild fire among the susceptible people.
A warrant was now issued for the arrest of Joseph
Smith and the entire city council, charging them with
riot in destroying the Expositor. The warrant was
served, and the officer was determined to take his
prisoners to Carthage for trial. However, the law
provided that they could be tried in some other court.
On the refusal of the constable having them in charge
to grant this, they were all released by writ of habeas
corpus issued by the municipal court of Nauvoo.
Indignation meetings were now held in the towns
of Carthage and Warsaw, wherein were adopted resolu-
tions with many highsounding "whereases" and "re-
solves," stating that the life and liberty of the country
were in danger, and declaring that the resolvers held
themselves in readiness to co-operate with their fellow
citizens of Missouri and Iowa "to exterminate, utterly
exterminate the wicked and abominable Mormon
leaders, the authors of our troubles." They further
resolved that all Mormons "should be driven from the
182 JOHN ST. JOHN
surrounding settlements in to Nauvoo;" and then if
Joseph and "his miscreant adherents" were not de-
livered into their hands, "a war of extermination should
be waged to the entire destruction, if necessary for our
protection, of his adherents."
Wild rumor flew about the country. Excitement
grew. The leaders at Nauvoo worked unceasingly
to present the truth both to Governor Ford and to the
people at large. The city officials went before Squire
Daniel H. Wells, then not a member of the Church, who,
after giving them a careful hearing, acquitted them.
The accused also expressed a willingness to go before
the circuit court. But all these efforts for peace proved
futile. Mobs began to gather and to threaten. Those
who lived outside of Nauvoo and who would not take
up arms against Joseph Smith and his associates, were
told either to give up all their weapons or to get out.
Many moved into Nauvoo for protection.
Brother and Sister Freland were among the first
to arrive. A day or two later William Dana, wife, and
child came. John and his mother made them welcome
and as comfortable as possible. Louise was near a
nervous breakdown. When Sister St. John placed an
easy chair for her, she sank into it, and clasping her
child close to her breast, she sobbed aloud in a heart-
John reassured them to the best of his ability.
They would all share alike of what earthly possessions
he had. Mobs could not take Nauvoo, he said. The
Legion was a strong military organization. Let no
mob venture against them!
"No death could be sweeter than fighting against
JOHN ST. JOHN 183
the accursed mob!" said William, with a quiver in his
voice. Louise raised her eyes questioningly, while
John pressed his hand in mute assent.
When mobs became more threatening, the city
was placed under martial law, and the Legion was
mustered into service. John and William marched
away together, leaving the tearful women at home. The
Prophet took command of the troops. In full uniform,
he looked a general in very deed. Mounting the frame
of a building near the Mansion, he addressed the
Legion and the people who had assembled:
"It is thought by some that our enemies would be
satisfied with my destruction," said Joseph; "but I tell
you that as soon as they have shed my blood, they will
thirst for the blood of every one in whose heart dwells
a single spark of a fulness of the gospel It is not
only to destroy me, but every man and woman who
dares believe the doctrines that God hath inspired me
to teach to this generation
"We are American citizens. We live upon a soil
for the liberties of which our fathers periled their lives
and spilt their blood upon the battle field
"Will you all stand by me to the death, and sus-
tain at the peril of your lives, the laws of our country,
and the liberties and privileges which our fathers have
transmitted unto us, sealed with their sacred blood?"
"Aye!" shouted the thousands as with one voice.
"It is well. If you had not done it, I would have
gone out there — " pointing to the West — "and would
have raised up a mightier people."
The Prophet-General drew his sword and present-
ing it to heaven, said: "I call God and angels to
184 JOHN ST. JOHN
witness that I have unsheathed my sword with a firm
and unalterable determination that this people shall
have their legal rights, and be protected from mob
violence, or my blood shall be spilled upon the ground
like water, and my body consigned to the silent tomb.
While I live, I will never tamely submit to the domin-
ion of cursed mobocracy. I would welcome death rather
than submit to this oppression; and it would be sweet,
Oh, sweet, to rest in the grave rather than submit to
this oppression, agitation, annoyance, confusion, and
alarm upon alarm, any longer
"I do not regard my own life. I am ready to be
offered a sacrifice for this people; for what can our
enemies do? only kill the body, and their power is then
at an end. Stand firm, my friends; never flinch. Do
not seek to save your lives, for he that is afraid to die
for the truth will lose eternal life. Hold out to the end
and we shall be resurrected and become like Gods,
and reign in celestial kingdoms, principalities, and
eternal dominions, while this cursed mob will sink to
hell, the portion of all those who shed innocent blood.
"God has tried you. You are a good people; there-
fore, I love you with all my heart. Greater love hath
no man than that he should lay down his life for his
friends. You have stood by me in the hour of trouble,
and I am willing to sacrifice my life for your preservation.
"May the Lord God of Israel bless you for ever
and ever. I say it in the name of Jesus of Nazareth,
and in the authority of the Holy Priesthood, which He
conferred upon me!"
r^^^^en!'* responded the full-hearted multitude.^
O/Brother Joseph, Brother Joseph! What do your
JOHN ST. JOHN 185
words imply? Is this your farewell to us? Are you going
to leave us? Are you going to die — to die for us? No,
no! let us die for you. We will protect you — we will
shed our last drop of blood for you! Brother Joseph
Hush! Still the throbbing, yearning heart. The
man of God, the prophet of the last dispensation, the
true Brother, the unalterable Friend, stands in the
majesty of his person, and smiles sweetly as he looks
out over the multitude.
His time is come. His work is done. He has de-
livered his last spoken word to his people!
186 JOHN ST. JOHN
The excitement in and about Nauvoo continued.
Pickets were placed to guard all approaches to the city,
and the Legion began throwing up entrenchments
against possible invaders. The leaders at Nauvoo kept
the governor informed on what was transpiring, and
they appealed to him for protection against the threat-
ening mobs. The governor came to Carthage. He
requested that representatives be sent to him from
Nauvoo, which was done. They found Governor Ford
surrounded by the bitterest anti-Mormon leaders who
acted as his advisers and who insulted the Nauvoo
delegation with impunity. The result of this conference
was that the governor made a demand on Joseph and
his associates that they come to Carthage for trial.
When the danger of this was pointed out, the governor
pledged his faith as chief executive of the state that
these men should be protected.
What should the brethren do? Should they sub-
mit themselves to the mercy of the merciless, or should
they try once more to save their lives?
Then a plan presented itself to the Prophet.
"It is clear to my mind what to do," he said. "All
they want is Hyrum and myself; then tell everybody
to go about their business, and not collect in groups.
There is no danger; they will come here and search for
us. Let them search; they will not harm you in person
or property, and not even a hair of your head. We
will cross the river tonight, and go away to the West."
JOHN ST. JOHN 187
Late that same night, Joseph and Hjrrum, with
two trusted brethren, rowed across the river to the Iowa
side, where they began making preparations for their
But that was not to be. Joseph's wife sent word
to him, begging him to return. Others also advised him
not to go, intimating that it was a cowardly act to thus
leave the flock to the mercy of wolves. This decided
"If my life is of no value to my friends, it is of none
to myself," he remarked. To Hyrum he said: "If you
go back, I will go with you, but we shall be butchered."
That afternoon Joseph and his party rowed back
across the river to Nauvoo. Then he sent word to
Governor Ford that he would come to Carthage next
morning. Would the governor send a posse for his safe
conduct? No, was the reply, Joseph was to be at Car-
thage without escort the next day, or Nauvoo would be
taken by armed force!
Early on the morning of the twenty-fourth of June,
Joseph and the members of the city council against
whom complaints had been made, rode out of Nauvoo
for Carthage. As they passed the Temple, Joseph
"This is the loveliest place and the best people
under the heavens; little do they know what awaits
John St. John and his friend William, coming home
from picket duty early that morning, saw the little
party set out for Carthage. They knew the temper of
the mobocrats and had heard of Joseph's forebodings;
their hearts were heavy. They stood looking along the
188 JOHN ST. JOHN
Carthage road until the Prophet and his company
disappeared from view.
"I wonder if that is the last time we shall see him,"
"I hope not," replied William. "The Lord will
protect them. What would we do if they were taken
The other did not answer for a moment; his eyes
were fixed on the distant road; then as he turned to his
companion: "Well, if God wills it so, we must learn to
stand alone Perhaps that also is a part of our
schooling. Come, let us be going."
At home, the two young men ate some breakfast,
and then lay down to rest. Shortly after noon John
went to the store, but there was very little buying and
selling, the people, for the most part, being unable to do
much of the regular business of the day. All were
eagerly awaiting news from the county seat. Would
Joseph and Hyrum have a fair trial? Would they have
a chance? Would Governor Ford protect them? What
would be the outcome of this new trouble? These,
with kindred questions, were in the hearts and on the
lips of the people.
Early in the afternoon, the Carthage road was
again darkened. A company of mounted militia rode
intoNauvoo. Joseph and his brethren were with them.
What did this mean?
The governor had ordered all the state arms to be
collected from the Nauvoo Legion. This company had
come to carry out this order.
John and William were among a group of men who
had learned of this. "What?" exclaimed John, "are we
JOHN ST. JOHN 189
to be disarmed again so that the mob may do with us
as they please as they did in Missouri? Never! We'll
stand for no more driving. We'll die fighting first!"
"Amen!" "We're with you," came from various
of the group.
"Shall we tamely submit?"
"Then get your arms and meet me at the Temple
in an hour. Tell the news to others. Rally the breth-
ren. We'll fight this out as our American forefathers
did. Patrick Henry had no more reason to shout
'Liberty or death' than we have!"
With a subdued cheer, the men scattered, They
went to their homes with a determination to come armed
to the rendezvous and resist any effort to disarm them
or to insult them. If only Joseph would lead them!
If only he would say to them, "Come, all ye faithful
and true, let us stand our ground!" If only he would!
But no; Joseph himself had countersigned the
governor's order, and had come back to Nauvoo to
assist in carrying it out. To the last, he would respect
lawful authority. The legion must obey the command
of the governor. There was to be no fighting.
There are things harder to do than not to fight;
and this, to John and William, and many others, was
one of them. (No doubt, it would have been easier for
Peter, of ancient times, to have fought and died for
his Master than to see Him led away to the cross.)
The state arms were collected. Twice during the
afternoon, Joseph bade farewell to his family. He
appeared solemn and thoughtful and expressed him-
190 JOHN ST. JOHN
self to several that he expected to be murdered. On
the road to Carthage Joseph said:
"I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am
as calm as a summer's morning. I have a conscience
void of offense toward all men. If they take my life,
I shall die an innocent man, and my blood shall cry
from the ground for vengeance, and it shall be said of
me, *He was murdered in cold blood!' "
And now the city became strangely quiet as if,
with bated breath, the inhabitants were waiting for
some dire calamity. The night and the next day drag-
ged by. On the twenty-sixth, the suspense became
painful. Travelers from Carthage reported that Joseph
and Hyrum were in jail, and the common rumor
there was that they would not leave the town alive.
Some of the mobocrats now wanted to march against
Nauvoo and put the city to sword and flame, but others
seemed content for the present in having in their power
the Prophet and the Patriarch.
On the twenty-seventh, the governor with a fol-
lowing of officers and troops came to Nauvoo, leaving
the Carthage Greys, the most bitter of the troops, to
guard his prisoners. Several thousands of Nauvoo's
citizens gathered at the corner of Main and Water
streets, where the governor addressed them in the most
insulting manner, unjustly accusing them of unlawful
acts for which they should be punished. The governor
and some of the officers visited the Temple where some
of them were guilty of vandalism. At six-thirty that
evening they rode away with great military display as
if they wished to impress the people.
.^ That evening John St. John, with mother and
JOHN ST. JOHN 191
friends, spent at home, as restfully as possible. Very
quietly they ate their supper, after which they sat for
a long time outside in the cool of the night. Neighbors
visited with each other to learn, if possible, any news.
A feeling of apprehension rested heavily upon all. At
last they went to bed, but there was little sleep. John
and William lay talking until late in the night.
They were up at daybreak. John went out into
his garden. The city lay as if yet sleeping in the cool,
quiet of the June morning. He lingered a while to let
the peace of the garden soothe his restless soul, then he
stepped into the street.
Shortly after sunrise, two horseman, with jaded
animals, were seen coming along the road. They stop-
ped at the Mansion where about a dozen men were
gathered. John quickened his steps, and soon joined
"What is it?" he asked.
"Joseph and Hyrum are dead!"
"They were shot to death yesterday afternoon
in Carthage jail."
"While the governor was here?"
John St. John stood in dazed inactivity for a few
moments. Then he slowly went back home with the
sad news. They all knew now what the forebodings
of evil had meant.
That afternoon ten thousand people went out to
receive all that was mortal of Joseph Smith and Hyrum,
his brother. About a mile east of the Temple, on Mul-
hoUand Street, they met the company coming from
192 JOHN ST. JOHN
Carthage. Reverently, silently, the people opened a
way to let the sad procession through; and as the wagon
containing the two rude boxes covered with an Indian
blanket came into view, a wave of lamentation swept
over the multitude. It was the low, heart-rending cry
of a people mourning for its dead!
JOHN ST. JOHN 193
The Prophet and Patriarch were dead. They no
longer were to be seen on the streets of Nauvoo, in shops
and stores, viewing and directing the work on the
Temple, riding with the Legion, visiting the homes of
the Saints, or delivering the word of God to Hstening
multitudes. Joseph and Hyrum were gone, and there
was a void in the hearts and the haunts of the people.
How could the sun, as usual, bathe the earth in
warmth and beauty? How could the breeze joyously
rustle the corn and bend the flowers? How could the
waters murmur peacefully on? How could the birds
sing, the bees hum? Were not Joseph and Hyrum
The Latter-day Saints were as children bereaved
of their parents, as a flock without a shepherd. All
but two of the Twelve were away on missions. These
two had been with Joseph and Hyrum in Carthage
Jail. John Taylor was seriously wounded and might
die. Willard Richards, who miraculously escaped the
bullets of the assassins, was alone of the Twelve to
comfort and to reassure the people.
Thoughts of revenge were swallowed up in grief.
The Nauvoo Legion could have marched to Carthage
and could have swept the people and the town from the
earth; but that would merely have been revenge, and
vengeance belongs to the Lord.
John St. John shared the troubles of his people.
He listened, usually without comment, to their dis-
194 JOHN ST. JOHN
cussions of what should now become of them and who
should lead them. He did not say much because he
had no definite opinion as to how matters would turn
out. His faith was left him, however, and he had a
profound assurance that the same divine power which
had established the Church would see to its perpetua-
tion. He prayed fervently that the Spirit of the Lord
would guide him and his friends, as well as the whole
Church membership, in this their hour of trial.
Early in August of that year Sidney Rigdon came
from Pittsburg to Nauvoo. He had been counsellor to
Joseph, in which position he had become such a burden
to the President that he had "thrown him off*' his
shoulders. At the services held in the grove Sunday
morning, August 4, Elder Rigdon addressed the people.
He said he had received a vision at Pittsburg in which
he had been told that a guardian should be appointed
to build up the Church to Joseph. He called attention
to the fact that he had often been a spokesman for
Joseph, and he proposed to continue in that office,
though how that was to be done, was not made clear.
Sidney Rigdon's words did not ring true to the
Saints. Usually an eloquent speaker, he now failed to
make the impression he desired. The people were not
A few days later, six of the Twelve having now
arrived, the leading brethren held a meeting, the prin-
cipal theme discussed being Sidney Rigdon's claim to the
leadership of the Church.
A general meeting was appointed for Thursday,
August 8, at the grove, where the whole question of
succession in the Presidency would be submitted to the
JOHN St. JOHN 196
Church. The Frelands had gone back to their homes,
so John and his mother went early to the meeting to
get seats well up to the front; and as they sat and waited
for the people to gather, they talked to each other.
"I can't get a favorable impression of Elder Rigdon,"
said John. "He has been with us so little of late; and
again, how can any man be a spokesman for Joseph.
Joseph is in the spirit world, and although his desires
are yet for the welfare of the Church, his sphere of
action is changed. We now want a spokesman for the
Lord, just the same as Joseph was. Presidents will
come and go, as all mortals do, but the Lord abides.
We want, it seems to me, one who can say, 'Thus
saith the Lord,' not one who will say, 'Thus saith
"I don't like the way Elder Rigdon speaks about
the Church and himself," added the mother. "He talks
as if the predictions of all the ancient prophets had
reference to himself. Besides, he ignores the Twelve."
"Well, the Twelve are here now. Joseph trusted
them and relied upon them. There's Brigham, Joseph's
right hand man in Missouri; and there's John and Heber
and Willard and Parley and Orson and Wilford and
George A. — all true men of God. We have heard
many times, mother, that Joseph rolled the respon-
sibility of carrying on the work on to their shoulders."
"And they are here to carry it."
"Yes; I recall the revelation which states that the
Twelve stand next to the First Presidency, and they
form a quorum equal in authority to the three presid-
ing High Priests. Naturally, then, when there is no
First Presidency, the Twelve is the next presiding body;
196 JOHN ST. JOHN
and in case the Twelve should disappear, the Seventy
would have the power to set the Church in order."
A large congregation had now assembled. The
wind being unfavorable for speaking from the stand,
a wagon was drawn to a position opposite, and in
this Sidney Rigdon, William Marks, and a number
of others took their place. After the opening exercises.
Elder Rigdon spoke. He was visibly embarrassed,
his speech being slow and labored. The congregation
listened patiently. The people were deeply in earnest,
wanting to hear the voice of the true shepherd; but
when Elder Rigdon had spoken for an hour and a half,
they became restless. They who had been wont to sit
spellbound, listening to the Prophet, heeding neither
time nor weather, now became uneasy. There was no
charm, no spirit in the former eloquent man.
Elder Rigdon ceased and sat down. Immediately
a voice spoke from the stand, and the audience turned
about to listen, their backs being now to the wagon
and Elder Rigdon.
The sound of that voice coming clear and distinct
from the stand swept away the lethargy of the con-
gregation. There was something strangely different
in that voice, and it seemed to pierce the listeners to
Mrs. St. John clasped the arm of her son. "John,
who is it?" she whispered.
"It's President Brigham Young."
"No — it's Joseph — see — can't you see it's Joseph!"
President Young was speaking again.
"Listen, Mother; Brigham is speaking again; but
JOHN ST. JOHN 197
he is transformed — he looks like Joseph, he is speaking
with Joseph's voice — Oh, mother!"
President Young spoke a few words only, but those
few words thrilled the congregation. Hearts were
filled; doubts vanished; assurance came back to halting
minds. Now they knew where the power of presidency
lay. They had heard the voice of the true shepherd.
When the meeting was dismissed, the people with
beaming eyes and eager lips said to each other:
"The spirit of Joseph rests upon Brigham."
"Yes; as the mantle of Elijah fell upon Elisha, so
has Joseph's fallen upon Brigham."
"Brigham has always been Joseph's right hand
"And he is President of the Twelve."
" *And God has set some in the church, first
apostles — '
"Praise the Lord! He has answered our prayers!"
It is not the purpose of this brief narrative to tell
in detail all that took place in Missouri and Illinois
when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
had its sojourn there for a few years. John St. John
was only one of many with like experiences, and if we
can enter somewhat into what he thought and did and
suffered, then also we may realize to some extent the
history of thousands. He was only one of a people
called to endure much for the gospel's sake, and to
lay the foundations of the great latter-day work. Let
the generations following be grateful for what these
^rly-day men and women did.
Thte Twdve were sustaineki as tiife l^ders of thie
198 JOHN ST. JOHN
Church. A few were dissatisfied and followed various
factions, but they did not prosper. The Saints at Nau-
voo now directed their energies to complete what Jos-
eph had begun. Work on the Temple was quickened,
with the result that the capstone was laid on the twenty-
fourth of May, 1845. In October of that year, the Tem-
ple was so far completed that meetings were held in it.
Part of the building was dedicated in November,
following which a large number of Saints received their
endowments. On the first day of May, 1846, the Tem-
ple was pubhcly dedicated.
For a short time after the martyrdom, the people
of Nauvoo enjoyed peace. Then, their enemies, seeing
that the taking away of the Prophet had not destroyed
the Church, again began agitation. Crimes of all kinds
were laid at the door of the people of Nauvoo. No
matter how many times these accusations were denied,
or how much the citizens of Nauvoo courted investiga-
tion, wicked rumors spread far and wide. In January,
1845, the state legislature repealed the charter of the
city and the Legion, thus leaving the citizens more
exposed than ever to the fury of their enemies.
In the fall of 1845, anti-Mormon meetings were
held in various nearby towns. Mobs again began to
plunder. Not only Mormons suffered, but all who
w^reiji any wa"y friendly to them or who dpposed law-
lessness where made to feel the cruel hand of oppression.
The cry everywhere became, "The Mormons
must leave the country." They were advised to go to
California or to Oregon as the great West was called.
"Go out there and make a nation of your own.^' ^^^
JOHN ST. JOHN 199
the Saints would eventually go to the Rocky moun-
tains. At any rate, President Young and the leading
men had not lost sight of that prediction, and now
public announcement was made that the people would
leave the state just as soon as they could dispose of
their property and get ready, in the spring.
During the fall and winter of 1845, the people were
busy selling property and procuring what was necessary
for such a far journey. Carpenters, blacksmiths, and
wagon-makers worked incessantly. The Saints in the
nearby settlements sold their property — if they could —
and came into Nauvoo, where they made preparations
for the great move.
And amid these busy scenes, the -finishing of the
Temple was not neglected. Though the Saints were
getting ready to leave it, they would complete it as the
Lord had commanded, even if they had to do so with
the trowel in one hand and a weapon of defense in
The enemies of the Saints were impatient to have
them go, so early in the month of February, 1846,
ferrying began across the river. The weather became
so cold that the river froze over, allowing hundreds of
teams to cross on the ice. Many of the Saints left the
"Beautiful City" with the comfort of good homes, and
slowly wended thdr way westward. They were soon
lost to view in the snow-covered plains of Iowa.
Brother and Sister Freland, William and his wife
and child were among the first to leave. They had
disposed of their property, getting barely enough out
of it to poorly fit them out. "However," said Brother
Frelaaid^ "if tkeiie is a pkce on God's earth where mobs
200 JOHN ST. JOHN
cannot come, I want to find it." The aged brother and
John's "Missouri Mother" were none too strong, and
John's heart ached for them as he bade them goodby on
the Nauvoo side of the ice-bound Mississippi. He also
would have gone, but his mother was not well, and he
had not as yet been able to get even a little for what
property he owned. Values were shrinking terribly in
Nauvoo. John St. John's worldly prestige and wealth
had nearly reached the vanishing point.
JOHN ST. JOHN 201
The September air was cool, but the afternoon
sun shone warm through the closed window to where
Mrs. St. John sat with her sewing. John came in quietly.
"Mother," he reproved, "why didn't you stay in
bed as I told you?"
"There is so much to do, John, so much mending
for the poor people who must leave. I want to help
"Yes; but you are sick — see, your hands are trem-
bling, so you can hardly hold the needle. Come, put
away your work and lie down here to rest."
He arranged a pillow for her on the sofa, and she
willingly did as he directed; for, truth to tell, she was
not well. He spread a cover over her, then drew his
own chair up close.
"What's going on in the city?" she asked.
"A number of brethren came from Mount Pisgah
and Garden Grove today. They report long trains of
wagons travehng westward."
"And we remain — "
"Just for a little while longer. You'll soon be
well again, and then we also shall go."
The mother did not reply. John stroked gently
the whitening head.
"The mobs are threatening again," he said; "I
may be called out at any time — but how can I leave
"When you are protecting the city, you are pro-
202 JOHN ST. JOHN
tecting me. Do your duty, John; I do not want to
fall into the hands of mobbers."
"And you shall not while I can prevent it. Grov-
ernor Ford has sent us Major Parker to raise a com-
pany of volunteers to defend the city. The Carthage
mob is led by old man Brockman, and reports are
that he is about ready to march on the city. All who
can are getting away either up or down or across the
river. I am telling you this, mother, not because it is
good news, but because I think you ought to know
The mother reached for her son's hand and
held it with gentle firmness for some time. The sun
sank low in the cloudless sky, and John pushed back
the curtains. The mother lay in the fading light. Mor-
tality seemed to have nearly passed from her dear face.
How beautiful she was! Was he to lose her? She was
his last earthly tie All the summer she had been
ailing, getting a little weaker day by day, fading slowly
as a drooping flower. She seldom spoke now of the
long, hard westward journey before them. She seemed
satisfied to lay her body to rest in a spot of earth in the
City of Joseph, rather than to drag it out into the
"When duty calls — ^go, my son," said the mother.
"I shaU be all right."
A few days later, a watchman on the tower of the
Temple announced that a body of men was coming
toward the city on the Carthage road. The western
move had drained the city of most of its able-bodied
men, but what few remained collected and marched out
to mctet the invaders. Db^bb the r'qgultai* vt^untieferS;
JOHN ST. JOHN 203
a body of select men for flankers and sharp-shooters
were organized under the leadership of Captain Wil-
liam Anderson. They called themselves the Spartan
The mob forces advanced along the road, firing
their cannon into the fields, and making great havoc
among the corn stalks. There was a din as of battle
eastward near Squire Wells' residence when the mob
forces came to a halt about a mile from town.
The defenders had no artillery to train against
those of the invaders. What could be done? Two
steamboat shafts were found near the river. These
were cut in two, plugged, and made into rude cannon,
from which bags of scrap iron were fired, to the sur-
prise and consternation of the mob forces. All that
night the defenders were busy strengthening their
earth entrenchments. John St. John had reported for
duty early in the afternoon, and he spent the night in
the trenches with gun and spade.
The next morning, it was observed that the enemy
were cautiously advancing. Squire Wells' house was
fired at, and though the family was at home, no one
was hurt. A ball from the enemy's cannon took the
roof off a small house near by. In wild affright, an
old woman rushed out and pleaded with the mobbers
spying that her hiisband w^as sick and could not get
away. The heartless wretches dragged the old man
from his bed and house, took him away, and it was
learned, later, ducked him in the river. As an explana-
tion of his death, they said they had only intended to
"baptize" him^ but they had perhaps held him under
204 JOHN ST. JOHN
All that day the gallant band of defenders bravely-
resisted so that the attacking force could not reach
Mulholand street. The sharp-shooters and the home-
made cannon did good service. Tired, grimy, hungry —
John was glad when night and comparative quiet came
and he could hurry home for a few hours.
He found his mother in her easy chair, keeping
up bravely. Her work had dropped from her hands,
and she seemed too weak even to pick it up. A lunch
was awaiting him on the table. He first put his mother
to bed, then ate his supper, afterward sitting by his
mother and talking to her until his tired eyes closed
Before daybreak John was again at his post. That
morning a messenger came from the camp of the enemy
with a flag of truce and a communication addressed to
the "Mormon forces" demanding their surrender on
terms that they give up their arms and permit the in-
vaders to enter the city. Major Clifford, who was now
in command of the Nauvoo forces, sent back a refusal
of the mob leader's demands, stating that he and his
forces were acting under authority of the governor
and commander-in-chief of the Illinois militia.
On receiving this reply, the mob renewed its
attack with much vigor, and the battle of Nauvoo was
on again in earnest. Captain Anderson, of the Spartan
Band, led his men in a gallant fight. A^musket ball
pierced his breast, and he fell.
"I am wounded!'' he exclaimed, "take my gun
and shoot on!"
The captain's fourteen year old son, Augustus,
wHd haxi foufeht by the sidie o^ his father, w^s hit by a
JOHN ST. JOHN 205
cannon ball and died shortly after. A number of others
were wounded in this fight, which eventually ended in
the mob forces retreating to a place of safety.
Early on the morning of the fourth day, John St.
John plodded homeward on a brief respite. He was
tired to the very marrow. He could hardly drag one
foot after the other. He paused to rest at a brother's
home near the Temple, and in the dim light of morning,
he saw the faithful sentinel on the tower, whose duty
it was to report the movements of the enemy. Enter-
ing the house, he found the women folks busy cooking
breakfast. He was invited to remain a few moments
and he would be served.
John sat down to rest and to wait. Had the appe-
tizing odors attracted others? for three more men soon
arrived. They, however, did not sit nor wait nor eat,
but they hurriedly took everything that was pre-
pared and carried it away to the fighting men in the
trench. The good women looked at each other and
then at John, and then they became busy doing their
work over again. The hungry guest laughed good-
naturedly at the "joke'' on him, and said the men did
exactly right. He went on home without waiting for
the second cooking.
The sun was rising as he entered the door of his
home. Everything was still. Evidently, his mother
was yet asleep. He walked quietly about, and then he
peeped into her bed room. Yes, she was in bed, lying
very quietly — so quietly that John was startled. He
stepped in and placed his hand on her forehead. It was
cold. He felt of her hand, lying on the coverlet. It
also was cold and lifeless!
206 JOHN ST. JOHN
"Mother! Oh, mother'/*
But that mother would never more speak with
mortal lips. She was dead.
John stood dazed in his agony and yet as
he looked into that stilled face, he saw traces of that
peaceful passage which is promised to those who die
in the Lord. They "shall not taste of death, for it shall
be sweet unto them." Yes, death must have been sweet
to his mother — a passing from scenes of mobocracy and
violence to the restful Paradise of God.
The mother had evidently prepared herself for
this final leave taking. Her house was in order. She
herself was clothed in a flowing white dress and dainty
cap. She lay in her bed as if she had been placed there
by other hands. The coverlet was smoothly undis-
turbed. John stood looking at it all in pained wonder
for some time. Then he left her room, and closed her
door; as he stepped out into the bright morning, a boom
of cannon greeted him from the direction of the battle
John went back to the neighbor's where the second
preparing of breakfast was about completed. A number
of others — women, children, and old men had gathered
to this place with the feeling that there would be more
protection so near the sacred precincts of the Temple.
Besides the cooking, many were occupied with moulds
and moulten lead, making bullets for their soldier
brothers and husbands. When John appeared on this
busy scene, the munition makers, thinking he had come
for ammunition, pointed to a bread-pan half full of
bullets and told him to help himself. But before John
JOHN Si'. JOHN 20?
could explain, he was taken in charge by a sister who
knew of his first visit there that morning.
"Have you eaten yet?" she asked.
"No, thank you, but — "
"Just come into this room. Til find something for
"Just a moment. I must tell you first that my
mother is dead."
"Dead! Oh, Brother St. John!"
"Yes; I found her in bed this morning. She
must have died during the night. She is now safe —
out of danger. I wish all you sisters were as safe from
harm as she."
"Shall we go over to her?"
"That is not necessary just now. Keep on with
your work. Now Fll eat a little and lie down to rest
for a while, if you'll keep a lookout on our house."
As John lay in a quiet corner of the house trying
to sleep, he heard the sentinel on the Temple call out
his tidings of how the battle was going. Between the
distant rattle of guns and the nearer noises of the house,
he heard the fretful cry of children and the suppressed
sobs of women, and his heart ached in pity for them.
However, he could better serve them if he could get a
little rest, so he gave himself up to sleep for a few hours.
Shortly after noon, he was again with his brethren,
fighting with more abandon than he had ever before
Overwhelmingly outnumbered, and outclassed by
resources, the defenders now realized that sooner or
later, the invaders would win. A treaty was, therefore,
made by which the besiegers were to enter the city, but
208 JOHN ST. JOHN
they were not to molest the citizens. The defending
forces were now disbanded.
John hurried home to prepare for laying his mother
to rest. There was not a man in the city, known to
him, that he could get to make a casket, so John him-
self went to work at the sad task. The result was crude,
but it was the best that could be done. The sisterly
hands of the neighbors assisted, and as soon as possible,
the little procession was ready to proceed to the burial
At that moment, a number of mobbers came to
the house. They were drunken and insolent. They
announced that they had come to search for arms, and
were about to crowd past and disarrange the funeral
proceedings. In righteous wrath, John commanded
them to stand back.
"I have no gun," he said, "but the first man who
attempts to enter shall be brained."
The intruders were of the kind that whiskey makes
cowardly instead of brave. When they saw the young
man standing erectly against them with a large shovel
in his hand, they slunk, muttering, away.
The little procession moved peacefully through the
streets to the cemetery. On every hand could be seen
the devilish work of the mob. About fifteen hundred
of them had moved into the city and had camped at the
foot of the hill near Parley street. Soon parties of
armed men had roamed the street at will, insulting,
threatening, robbing, and ordering families to leave
on short notice. No respect had been shown to age or
infirmity. They had entered the Temple, had rung the
bell in the tower, and yelled with frenzied glee:
JOHN ST. JOHN 209
"Who is the keeper of the Lord's house now?"
After John had performed the last sad rites for
his mother, he wended his way back home. The ex-
citement in the town was abating, and campfires were
being prepared for supper making. A neighbor warned
John that he had overheard some of the mobbers, whom
he had defied earlier in the day, planning to "get even"
with him. It would be safer if he did not occupy his
house that night.
Well, he had nothing now to keep him at home.
Now he could follow the main body of the Church
westward. He would leave immediately. He could do
this. The business at the store had been closed some
time ago, and what had remained of that wreck had
been spent during the last days of trial and trouble.
He had tried to dispose of his small land holdings, but
to no avail. No one wanted to invest during such un-
certain times. John's convertible earthly possessions
could be made into a bundle which he could carry away.
By ten o'clock that night John was down by the
river. He found one leaky boat still unused. He paid
the owner two dollars for it, baled it out, calked its
biggest seams with rags, placed his bundle in the prow
out of reach of the wet bottom, stepped carefully in
and pushed out into the stream.
Goodby to Nauvoo! The moon was hidden. The
night was still, and the city and the river lay peacefully
under a cloud of darkness. John was glad to get away,
and yet, as he rowed across the river, it seemed to him
that he was leaving the world in which he had thus far
lived his life, and going to another world — one which
lay in the dim, untried unknown.
210 JOHN ST. JOHN
John landed on the Iowa side of the river about
midnight. Here and there, dim lights flickered. Fretful
tries of children and groans of sick men and women
rose on the night air. Hundreds of people were camping
on the river-bottom land, refugees from the stricken
city across the river. Most of them now lay in the
open with no shelter from the cold. When John stepped
about, many awoke from their uneasy sleep, fearful
that the enemy had already followed them.
John had no particular place to go, had no one
to inquire after. He walked aimlessly about the piti-
ful scene until he was attracted by a small group watch-
ing over a dying woman. She lay on a piece of mat-
tress, covered with a quilt. Over her had been stretched
a sheet to form a sort of tent. A tallow candle, shel-
tered by a paper shade, sent its flickering light over the
scene. A man, evidently the woman's husband, was
holding her head and occasionally placing to her lips
a battered, blackened tin cup containing river water.
Out a few feet from the dim circle of light, sat two little
children on a piece of drift-wood, pouring out their
The wanderer paused, watched, and waited,
wondering if he could be of any service; but mortals had
done their worst and best for this woman, and in a few
moments, her Maker took her in hand! John
passed on and came to a group very much like the one
he had just left. A number of women were busy about
JOHN ST. JOHN 211
a sick sister's rude bed. As he approached, he heard the
faint cry of a new-bom babe — ^just come into the world!
John turned away.
A short distance away burned a small drift-wood
fire near which sat two men. One was old, nearly to
dotage, the other a young man who appeared to be
very ill. Coatless and hatless, the sufferer crouched by
the fire with his head hanging between his knees. John
touched him on the shoulder, at which the young man
tried to raise his head.
"He's sick," muttered the old man. "He's my
grandson.— He gave me his coat."
John took off his own coat and wrapped it about
the younger man, who smiled faintly at the kind deed,
but shook his head as if it all were useless. Then John
bethought himself of his bundle which he had left at
the river bank. Two quilts were in it. He hurriedly
fetched them and made a bed by the fire. Into this
bed he tucked both the sick boy and his grandfather,
telling them to go to sleep; he would watch and tend
In this way the night passed. John dozed a little,
but the chill of night made it too uncomfortable to
sleep. The camp was astir at dawn. The old man had
slept fairly well, and the young man said he was better.
John shared with them what little food he had, and
told them to keep the quilts.
By the light of the day, John saw a most pitiable
condition. The poor, the sick, the old, the infirm — all
who had been unable to leave Nauvoo earlier were
now huddled together on the bleak river bank. Their
only hope now was that their brethren might come from
212 JOHN ST. JOHN
the temporary western settlements to their rescue. If
this failed, they would perish miserably where they
John St. John with his lightened bundle, went
about the camp trying to form some plan of action for
himself. Going back to the river where he had fast-
ened his boat, he found a man and his wife in deep dis-
tress. They told him that they had lost their little
seven year old daughter. In their hurried flight from
their home, they had thought she was with some
neighbors; they had found their mistake when it was
too late. She must still be in Nauvoo somewhere — had
been there all during the night. Was this boat John's?
Could the man use it to get across the river?
But neither the man nor the boat was in a con-
dition for such a trip. The man was not well and the
boat was half full of water. John looked at the dis-
tracted parents, and then at the boat. He had been
seeking something to do. Here was something right
"ril go back and try to find your daughter," he
said. "Tell me about her."
They told him where their home was in the city
and described their little girl. By the aid of the father,
John drew the boat on shore, baled out the water, and
tightened the calking. By noon he was pulling stead-
ily at the oars, the boat pointing to the Nauvoo side
of the river.
On reaching Nauvoo, John went directly home.
Mob-soldiers were still about the city, but he was not
molested. He saw that his house had been ransacked
during the night. Practically every movable thing of
JOHN ST. JOHN 213
value had been taken away or badly broken. He found
one of his discarded coats, which he now gladly slipped
on. He looked about the desolate place for a few
moments, then passed up the street toward the home
of the little girl he was seeking, on the further side
of the city.
The town was deserted, empty of inhabitants.
How quiet it was! Lots and gardens lay neglected,
houses were vacated. The stores were closed, the
workshops were still. The afternoon sun became warm,
and a mellow autumn haze bathed the town.
John readily found the house he was seeking.
The wicket-latch clicked loudly as he stepped on to the
path leading up to the door, but no one came to meet
him. The front garden glowed with marigolds, dahlias,
and heavy-headed sunflowers — and John caught him-
self thinking that he would get seeds from these for
his own planting. He pushed open the unlocked door
and looked into the deserted rooms. No one was
there, save a little kitten crying loudly for companion-
Inquiry of the few people who were about brought
no information regarding the little girl. Not far away
the Battle of Nauvoo had been fought. John looked
again on the trench he had helped to dig and defend.
He passed through a battle-scarred orchard wh«^ he
picked and ate a few apples. Nearby wheat fields,
yellow ripe, lay trodden on the ground. A number of
houses in this part of town showed marks of cannonad-
After some hours of fruitless search, John returned
again to the child's home. Once more he looked through
214 JOHN ST. JOHN
the rooms, and there, in a comer, huddled on a pile
of rags, she lay. Her uncombed hair hung over a tear-
stained face. Fright, hunger, and exhaustion had done
their work, and now she lay fast asleep with the little
kitten curled up in her lap.
At John's footsteps, the kitten sprang up, mewed,
and rubbed its arched back against his legs. With a
start, the little girl also awoke, and seeing the stranger,
she began to cry.
"Don't cry, little girl," said he, "I will not hurt
you. I have come to take you to your mamma."
"Mamma, Oh, mamma, where are you?"
"She is across the river. They missed you. Where
have you been?"
"When the wicked men came, I hid, and — well
then I went out — and then the dark night came on,
She could explain no further, for her experiences
had unnerved her. John picked her up and carried her
out. "There now, don't cry any more. You are all
right now." He managed to get her something to eat
and then he took her to the ferry where some people
whom he knew were about to cross. He sent the
little girl to her parents with them.
John was not ready to recross the river. He want-
ed to get some more clothing, if possible, and he wanted
to try once more to dispose of his property. He was
practically penniless. He could not make the western
journey without a team and provisions. He must try
again to sell or trade his bit of land.
Leaving the ferry, he passed up the street and
by the post office. For a long time, he had received no
JOHN ST. JOHN 215
mail. Perchance there would be something for him.
He went in and asked. A number of papers were
handed to him, and, yes, there was a letter — one from
It was the first he had received for over a month.
He fingered it lovingly. What had she to say? Where
could he read it in peace? He would go to his deserted
home. He would be absolutely alone there to receive
what message Dora had for him — either good or bad.
He slipped the letter into his pocket and went to his
house. The chill of evening was already in the air, and
he thought a fire would add both comfort and cheer.
The mobbers had not taken away all his wood-pile, so
he carried a number of large armfuls in near the fire-
place, and soon had a blaze. There was still light
enough from the west window by which to read, so he
sat down on the seat in the "cosy comer," opened his
letter and read:
"Dear John: — I have been ill for three weeks, but I
forbade mother or Jane to write you about it: we know
somewhat of your troublesome times, and I did not
want to add anything to your worry. But I am better
now, and I am sure that Dr. John St. John could make
me completely well.
"But there — pay no attention to that last sen-
tence. No earthly power could make you come to us
instead of going with your people, so I shall not try to
influence you — and John, really, I don't know whether
or not I want you to come or to go. Can you make
anything out of my confused state of mind?
"The autumn is glorious here at Belford. I went
out to Moston yesterday for the first time in weeks. I
216 JOHN ST. JOHN
was, of course, reminded of our good old times, and I
fear I dropt a tear down to the minnows in the creek —
yes, the initials are still there. I wanted to dig a little
at them, but I had no knife. I am still a goose, you see.
"How is your mother? Has the excitement at
Nauvoo abated? Are you still planning the big west-
ward journey? Jane fears the Indians will get you if
you venture. At any rate, if you go to California, you
will very likely, never come back. The distance is so
great, besides — and so —
'*We had strawberry tarts for supper.
"We had some of your missionary elders preaching
in Belford last Sunday. Mother and Jane went to hear
them and brought them back home for supper. They
were very nice young men; and — I suppose — seeing
that I could not go to meeting, they brought the meet-
ing to me. They explained the doctrines of faith,
repentance, and baptism — all of which I need.
"Jane is getting along fine in school.
"A young fellow by the name of — well, we call
him Nat for short, persists in coming to see me. Next
time he comes I must tell him — what?
"I was working in a store in Belford before I be-
came ill. Mother said the work would be good ex-
perience for a girl who would likely have to earn her
own living. I don't know whether I can get my posi-
tion back now or not. Do you not need someone to
measure calico at your store?"
Thus the letter ran to the end. Daylight had about
departed. The fire in the grate leaped brightly up the
chimney. He had better screen the light. Luckily,
the blind was still intact, and he pulled it down.
JOHN ST. JOHN 217
He found an old chair and sat down near the fire-
place and looked into the blaze. Then his thoughts went
back to former times, and to Dora. Dora was the same
sweet, light-hearted girl, but he could find no trace of
any religious awakening in her letter. Could he still
continue to hope against hope? Between the lines,
she plainly said she still cared for him. Did that give
him joy — or was it added pain? Well, perhaps his own
mind was in as confused a state as Dora said hers was!
John was hungry and weak from long fastings and
And the devil, taking advantage of his condition,
came and tempted him.
John St. John was shown the glories of the world:
wealth, position, the honors of men; ease and comfort
all his days; Dora, as wife, with children playing about
his hearth; and Moston, beautiful old Moston, might
have been his. But why bewail the past? whispered the
tempter. You are yet a young man. All this is still
within your reach. Go back to the girl who loves you
and will make you happy. Get into the world again
and win back what you have lost by joining this un-
popular church. Go east where there is beauty and
culture and civilization. That postponed trip to
Europe — with Dora — may still be realized. You were
to climb the Alps together, do you not remember —
you were to sail the Italian lakes — you were to linger
in the lands of roses and of sweet song
Dora persisted in his vision, and he made no
attempt to banish her. She stood before him, calling
him by loving look and word. With shining eyes,
218 JOHN ST. JOHN
golden hair, rosy lips and cheeks, she tenderly bade him
Was he drifting away, away from his fast moorings?
Was he getting lost in the sea of doubt and uncertain-
ty? He struggled to get control of himself again that
his thinking might become clear and sane. He knew
the gospel was true. He said it aloud that he might
hear his own voice proclaim it. He could not deny
He that seeketh to save (in this case, wife) he
forced himself to reason, shall lose. He that loseth
shall find. Would the words of the Master apply to his
case? The Priesthood had the power to unite man and
wife for time and for eternity. Outside this Church,
this Priesthood, there is no such power. He could go to
Dora, marry her and make her his wife for this life;
but to have her for eternity, he would have to prove
himself true and worthy. As things were now, there-
fore, he would have to leave her in order to get her: to
find, he would have to lose; to live, he would have to
"If I but knew that some day you'd be mine.
Seas might divide us, mountains lie between,
And years, and even life itself go by
Before my hungering eyes could rest upon
Your face — Fd be content — content to wait —
If I but knew that some day you'd be mine!"
The fire in the grate burned low as John St. John,
in his wrestling and his praying and his agony, came
from out his Gethsemane!
Then he arose, shook himself as if to get rid of the
JOHN ST. JOHN 219
last vestige of mind darkness, went to the door and
looked out into the night; then he lay down peacefully
by the warm hearth and went to sleep.
■" John awoke next morning feeling himself again and
with a deep sense of gratitude for the Lord's protecting
care. All that day and other days following, he spent
in Nauvoo and surrounding places trying to dispose
of his property for something with which he could make
the westward journey. At last he found a man who,
after a trip of inspection to Nauvoo, was willing to give
him a team, a fairly good wagon, and a stock of pro-
visions for his holdings. The trade was made, and one
of the first days of October John's outfit was ferried
across the river.
John found that a number of relief teams had
arrived from Winter Quarters to assist the poor to
remove west. He reported his team to the leader
of the company, asking that as he had no one depend-
ant on him, he be allowed to take under his charge the
sick yoimg man and his grandfather to whom some time
before he had given his blankets. This was readily
granted, much to the joy of these two worthy brethren.
And so in a day or two, the camp was organized and
ready to move. John was as eager as the rest to be off.
That first morning when the company moved slowly
up and away from the river, he was well in advance.
On an elevation, he stopped his team by which he was
walking, and turned and stood looking at the strag-
gling remnant of his people, slowly forming into travel-
ing order. As he stood there, he bared his head to the
morning breeze. The sun shone full on his thread-bare
coat, his coarse trousers, his well-worn boots; but a
220 JOHN ST. JOHN
finer picture of a man the artist would fail to find any-
where else in all the world!
And John St. John was a man, in every way.
Thanks to the Lord and His providences, his
having been born into wealth and affluence had not
been permitted to stand in the way of his development
in all the things which make for true character. How
he did glory in that thought, for it came to him
as he stood there that morning. His heart was
full of gratitude as his soul was full of peace.
He had found himself. For the fu-st time in his life,
he realized more fully his powers as a child of God, in
the track, and on the way of his Eternal Father. One
great epoch of his life lay behind him; and he felt
that he had strength given him to meet and to take
advantage of the one which stretched out before him
into the invisible future.
Goodby, Nauvoo, goodby, goodby! In the dis-
tance the morning sun touched the towers and walls
of the Temple. John's eyes rested lovingly on the
sight, but only for a moment. The company was
moving, and he must not linger. Again he turned his
face and his steps to the West.
JOHN ST. JOHN 221
BY WAY OF POSTSCRIPT.
John St. John's mercantile establishment occupied
a prominent comer in his home town; his homestead
stood about two miles out on the county road in the
north-west comer of his farm which sloped gently
westward toward the Great Salt Lake. He was both
merchant and farmer, and as the year had been a
prosperous one with him, he could well afford to send
his two sons on the mission to which they had been
called at the recent conference of the Church.
Their farewell home party was this evening being
held in the large, roomy country residence. The parlor
and the dining room, thrown into one by the open
folding doors, were now glowing with light and gor-
geous autumn leaves. Early in the evening, there were
busy scenes in the kitchen, and although the workers
tried to keep the odor of cooking from the other parts
of the house, this was difficult to do. Anyway, the
smell of roasting meats and baking pies is not offensive
to hungry boys and girls.
No effort shall be made in this postscript to give
the names and the number in John St. John's house-
hold. Rest assured, there were a lot of fine, healthy,
growing children. The family line coming down through
an only son of an only son was now beyond the danger
of becoming extinct. Of the two missionaries, Joseph,
the oldest, was twenty, and Hyrum was nineteen.
They were big, broad-shouldered, clean-faced, clear-
222 JOHN ST. JOHN
eyed fellows, full of fun as well as sense, and as a rule,
willing enough to play with their younger brothers and
sisters. However, this evening they were unusually
quiet and sober, for were they not going to leave home
tomorrow for the first time in their lives — going on
missions to far-away England to preach the gospel,
and remain away for two or three years! Sxu'ely, it
was a sobering prospect.
Now the dining room table was stretched out to
its full "Christmas length,'' and for some time the girls
were busy setting it. Some of the larger children were
trying to keep the smaller ones to a semblance of dec-
orous order in the parlor end of the big room.
In due time, supper was announced, and the family
took their places about the big table. The father's
blessing on the food was a little longer than usual, as
befitting the occasion, and then the clatter of a busy
The meal ended in good time with the leisurely
eating of the home-made ice cream and cake.
"Now," said the father from the head of the table,
"whose turn is it to play?"
"It is Mary's."
"All right, Mary. Make the step a lively one, for
we want the table cleared in good time this evening."
Mary went to the organ and played a march. The
smaller children again retreated to the parlor, while
the older ones, both boys and girls, attacked the dishes
with such dispatch that they were soon cleared away
and washed. Then the whole family gathered in the
room, awaiting further directions. They knew that
JOHN ST. JOHN 223
on such an evening as this, the father would have some-
thing special to say.
"First we will sing," he announced. "Mary,
remain at the organ. We need no books, for we all
know 'Come, come, ye saints.' Before we sing it, I
want to read again all the verses. Listen carefully, for
there is deep meaning in every line. When you can see
the picture of the moving camps of Israel and enter
somewhat into their feelings, then only can you sing
the song with the proper spirit."
They had sung this song many times, and they
sang it well. The father had explained its meaning
before, so the children knew why there were tears in
some of their eyes when they began on the last stanza:
"And if we die before our journey's through"
When the song was ended, John St. John arose to
his feet. The occasion called for this formality, he felt.
For a moment he looked about on his assembled house-
hold who sat in silent and respectful expectancy.
Then with a deep impressive voice and a wave of his
hand, he said:
"All this — and the gospel!
"Let me explain," he continued. "At one time in
my life I thought that poverty, hardship, and per-
secution were inseparably connected with the gospel of
Jesus Christ. My experiences in Missouri and Illinois
and in the beginning of our settlement of this valley
seemed to imply this; but now, I see that I was mis-
taken, for now I not only have the gospel, but peace
and plenty — and youl
"My heart is full of gratitude to my Heavenly
Father for all this. The Lord knows I am thankful,
224 JOHN ST. JOHN
and I want you to know it also. I am grateful for the
wealth of love all of you have brought to me. We
haven't a black sheep among our large flock. Two of
you are now ready to go on missions, and from now on
I want always to have a representative of our family in
the field. As soon as Joseph and Hyrum return, Henry
should be ready, and then Heber should be next; and
then the honor should go on down to the other boys, and
perhaps to some of the girls. We cannot do less to
show our gratitude than to pass on the blessings we have
"When you boys arrive in England, and when
the time is opportune, I want you to go to the ancient
manor of Mosstone. As you know, your great grand-
father came from England, a descendant of the people
who now live at Mosstone Manor. If you can get the
records of the family, trace your pedigree back as far
as you can. That will be necessary for temple work.
"I want you to stop over at Nauvoo — and you
would better do this on your outward trip. You'll have
no time for stop-overs on your return, for when you are
released, you'll make a bee-line for home. If I guess
right, you'll not be able to hold Joseph, at any rate."
The father looked knowingly at his eldest son who
smiled good-naturedly at the personal reference. The
young man did not deny the possibility of his speedy
homeward trip, once he was released; rather, he cor-
roborated the statement by placing his arm about the
blushing young lady at his side. She was not yet a
member of the family. Miranda Dana, daughter of
his old-time friend and neighbor, William Dana, was.
JOHN ST. JOHN 225
on Joseph's account, a specially invited guest that
'^Children," continued the father, ''I have told
you before how the Lord brought a testimony of the
gospel to the hearts of your grandmother Fenton and
her children, and how I went back over the Plains to
Iowa to meet them; how grandmother Fenton died and
lies buried at Mount Pisgah, and how her two daugh-
ters came on to the Valley with me. It may be difficult
for you boys to stop at Pisgah at present, but I want you
especially to spend a few days at Belford. I shall give
you letters of introduction to some old-time friends.
I want you also to go out to Moston and the Fenton
home. These may be well within the city limits of
Belford, but in my young days — our young days," he
corrected as he looked at the two mothers sitting with
the children~"these places were well out in the
The father went on telling incidents of his boy-
hood days. Then, as the evening advanced and the
smaller children dropped off to sleep, they sang a song
and had family prayers. A recess was taken to allow
the younger children to be put to bed, then a few of the
older ones, with father and mothers, gathered about
the dying fire in the grate for the more quiet, closer,
Miranda shared Joseph's intimate company with
his mother. Hyrum and his mother kept close to each
other on the other side of the hearth. These two comely,
well-preserved mothers, one a little older than the other,
but looking very much alike, with the same blue eyes
and the hair yet golden, presented the picture of happy
226 JOHN ST. JOHN
contentment, even though on the morrow their sons
were to leave them for a long journey. They were
going on the Lord's business, and He would protect
them and bring them safely home.
The father now talked more intimately to his
missionary sons, telling them what they might meet
in the world, and warning them of dangers which might
beset them. Then, at last when it was time to separate,
and they were all standing together for the good night's
greeting, John St. John, looking with loving eyes on
his boys and their mothers, seemed to bethink himself
Boys," he said, "when you get to Moston, if
there is no great change in the country, you will find
a bridge spanning the stream which flows through the
meadow about half way between my old home and the
Fenton's. The bridge is old now, but it was well made,
as I remember. I want you to look on the hand-railing
on the right as you cross from Moston. About the
center of the railing, you will find some initials cut into
the wood. I'm sure they are there yet."
''What are they, father?" asked Joseph.
" 'J. S. J.' and 'D. F.' I cut them deep, so that
they would remain a long time." (Did this father with
whitening hair at his temples redden a little at the ex-
pression of this bit of sentiment? ) "When you find them,
just dig them a little deeper."
"Let me add a correction," said Hyrum's mother.
"On the other side of the 'J. S. J.' you will find the
initials 'J. F.' "
JOHN ST. JOHN 227
"I did not put them there," remarked John St.
John somewhat stupidly.
"No; but I did," said the younger mother, with a
twinkle in her eye, "and while your knives are sharp,
give those also a little more depth, please."
"Well, — certainly — well — " laughed the father —
"but do as you are told, boys."
The young men promised.
"Now good night all. We must be up early, you
Hyrum gave his goodnight kiss as he passed about
the group. "Goodnight, mother," he said; "goodnight,
Joseph followed: "Goodnight, mother; goodnight,
k Aunt Jane."
Zion's Printing and Publishing Co.,
Independence, Jackson Co., Mo.
MAR 4 1
»IAR 7 ^oem
SEP I Vl
qpp 1 B ■)